Updated with Google comment.
A federal jury in Seattle ruled in Microsoft’s favor this afternoon in a patent dispute with Motorola Solutions — finding unanimously that Motorola breached its contractual obligations when it offered to license key tech patents to Microsoft for significantly more than what the court determined to be fair and reasonable terms.
However, the jury award of $14 million was about half of the $29 million that Microsoft had sought in the case. The dispute served as a proxy for a larger battle between Microsoft and Google, which acquired Motorola for $12.5 billion last year.
David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a statement, “This is a landmark win for all who want products that are affordable and work well together. The jury’s verdict is the latest in a growing list of decisions by regulators and courts telling Google to stop abusing patents.”
Update: Google said in a statement: “We’re disappointed in this outcome, but look forward to an appeal of the novel legal issues raised in this case. In the meantime, we’ll focus on building great products that people love.”
About $23 million of the damages sought by Microsoft had been related to the expense of moving a distribution center to the Netherlands when Motorola won an injunction in Germany in a related case. Lawyers for Motorola presented evidence showing that Microsoft actually benefitted from moving the distribution center by increasing its capacity.
The case centered on offers that Motorola made to Microsoft in 2010 to license the smartphone maker’s patents required to implement the H.264 video and 802.11 wireless standards in Windows and Xbox.
U.S. District Judge James Robart, who presided over the jury trial, ruled previously that a fair and reasonable licensing deal would require Microsoft to pay only a fraction of what Motorola originally offered — about $1.8 million a year, compared with $4 billion a year if Motorola’s original offers were taken at face value, Microsoft said.
Microsoft alleged that Motorola’s offer breached its legal commitments to the standards-setting organizations, and by extension to Microsoft, to license the “standard-essential” patents on fair and reasonable terms.
Motorola lawyers said the offer was intended merely as an opening for negotiations. They had urged the jury to consider the offer in the broader context of the contentious relationship between the companies. Weeks before the offer was made in 2010, Microsoft had separately sued Motorola, alleging that its Android-based devices infringed on Microsoft patents.