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January 10, 2013

Google Drops Patent Complaints Against Microsoft

Google-owned Motorola Mobility has dropped two patent complaints against Microsoft for its use of video-compression technology in its Xbox and Smartphones.

Motorola filed a motion Jan. 8 with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to drop the two patents from its complaint, ending a portion of the conflict which began in 2010 between the firms.

Motorola is still challenging Microsoft over one patent relating to a wireless peer-to-peer network  that is not part of an industry standard.

Google’s move comes just days after its agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to change its patent practices.

The FTC probed Google’s handling of the patents it attained in its $12.5-billion deal to purchase Motorola Mobility last May after complaints the technology giant was not only declining rivals’ patent licenses but obtaining court injunctions against them to keep their products from being sold.

Under the agreement with the FTC, Google must now license standards-essential patents to willing parties on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory) basis.

Motorola is not, however, dropping its other lawsuits against Microsoft.

“In filing the present motion, Motorola Mobility does not waive any rights including past damages in its currently-pending lawsuits against Microsoft in the U.S. Dictrict Courts for the Western District of Washington and the Western District of Wisconsin,” the company said in its filing. “Motorola intends to enforce its rights for past damages in the District Court lawsuits.”

The Washington trial, which kicked off Nov. 13 in Seattle federal court, could set a precedent in how to price patents that are part of industry standards.

Microsoft wants to license the patents associated with H.264 video and the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Motorola, however, is asking Microsoft to pay 2.25 percent of the product price as a royalty. Under that rate, it would cost Microsoft up to $4 billion a year to use video streaming and Wi-Fi technology in its Windows and Xbox products.

Microsoft has suggested a $1 million fee.

U.S. District Judge James Robart attempted a settlement between the rivals earlier this year to no avail, causing him to schedule the trial. The trial ended Nov. 21, but Robart has yet to make his ruling.

Microsoft and Motorola have filed several patent violation lawsuits against each other in the U.S. and Germany.

In October, Motorola won its app patent case against Microsoft. A German court ruled Motorola did not breach Microsoft’s patent that makes apps work on various handsets, meaning a developer is not required to produce independent codes and apps for different Smartphones.

Microsoft Corp. vs. Motorola Inc., 10-cv-1823 can be read here.