A German court ruled Wednesday that Microsoft infringed on patents owned by Motorola Mobility and ordered the company to remove its Xbox and Windows 7 products from the German market.
According to Reuters, patent litigation between Motorola Mobility and Microsoft in Germany came to a head Wednesday as a German court in Mannaheim decided in favor of Motorola and ordered Microsoft to "remove its popular Xbox 360 gaming consoles and Windows 7 operating system software from the German market."
Despite the order by the German court, Microsoft has said that the ruling would not result in their products being removed from German retailers. A U.S. district court in Seattle issued Microsoft an injunction against Motorola, allowing the software giant to "prevent the phone maker from enforcing any German court order."
"Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise," Microsoft said in a response to the ruling.
German judge Holger Kircher said on Wednesday that Microsoft had "breached an agreement with Motorola Mobility," a company that is currently being acquired by Google, when it used certain, Motorola-owned video-compression software in its products. Microsoft and Apple, however, have complained to the EU about Motorola "over-charging for the use of its patents in their rival products," and the EU has subsequently opened two investigations. A U.S. International Trade Commission judge last week also claimed that Microsoft had infringed on Motorola Mobility's patents in the Xbox's "wireless Internet connection and video compression functions." FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller first reported on this story, citing the specific patents involved.
Wednesday's ruling is not expected to have a large immediate impact on Microsoft's European operations, as the software giant moved its regional software distribution center out of Germany into the Netherlands to preemptively combat any possible adverse outcome in the patent trial.
Technology companies worldwide have spent billions on buying patents to use against their rivals and spent more on patent litigation in the United States and Europe. This case is a continuation of the larger patent war between players in the smartphone market (Apple, Microsoft, and Google's Android partners). Germany, however, has become a major "battleground" in the recent surge of patent disputes between the aforementioned companies, as court action in Germany has proved to be "relatively cheap and speedier than in other jurisdictions." Earlier this year, German courts banned Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 from the country and forced Apple to deactivate push notifications for some German users.