A jury of seven women and one man will hear opening statements in federal court in Seattle this afternoon in a high-profile patent suit between Microsoft and Motorola —a key case in a broader set of disputes between Microsoft and Google, the smartphone maker’s parent company.
After seating the jury and dismissing them for lunch, U.S. District Judge James Robart remarked to the lawyers in the courtroom that the jury pool had been particularly well-educated. Like many patent cases, the litigation is complex, focusing on the question of whether Motorola breached its promises to standard-setting organizations in a subsequent licensing offer to Microsoft.
Questioning of potential jurors this morning focused in part on potential conflicts from connections to Google and Microsoft, and there were plenty of the latter among the Seattle jury pool.
The jury trial on the breach of contract issue follows Robart’s previous ruling that Microsoft owes less than $1.8 million a year for its use of Motorola’s patented video and wireless technologies in Windows, Xbox and other products. Motorola had originally sought a rate amounting to more than $4 billion a year, plus back payments.
In a ruling this weekend, on the eve of the trial, Robart rejected an attempt by Motorola to prevent the jury from hearing the findings that formed the basis of his ruling in the first phase of the trial.
Motorola had been represented in the initial bench trial by lawyers from Ropes & Gray LLP, but the company’s primary lawyers for the jury trial are from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, which has represented Google in patent cases, in addition to Samsung, Motorola and HTC in disputes with Apple.
Opening statements begin shortly, and GeekWire will be in the courtroom with details.