A long-running patent dispute between Microsoft and Motorola will come to a head in federal court in Seattle this week as Microsoft tries to convince a jury that the Google-owned smartphone maker fell short of its legal commitments by failing to license a key set of patents on fair and reasonable terms.
The jury trial follows Judge James 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.
Today, on the eve of the jury trial, Judge 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. The judge wrote today that Motorola seems to be trying to “recast its prior representations, having not achieved the results it hoped for in the first phase.”
Robart added, “The court must be mindful not to allow the parties to re-litigate issues that they agreed to have the court decide, and that the court did decide, simply because they do not like the court’s findings.”
The Motorola patents cover a portion of the technologies required to implement the 802.11 wireless and H.264 video standards. The central question in the upcoming jury trial is whether Motorola, in its initial offer to Microsoft, breached its commitments to standards-setting organizations to offer the patents on fair and reasonable terms.
This is part of a broader standoff between Google and Microsoft over patents and many other topics.
Microsoft has separately reached patent licensing deals with a variety of Android device makers, receiving royalties on Android sales based on its claims that Android violates Microsoft’s patents. Motorola, which was acquired by Google in 2012 for $12.5 billion, has been a notable exception, but further court victories by Microsoft could ratchet up the pressure on Motorola and Google to reach some kind of broader settlement.
Here’s the full text of Robart’s ruling, made public by the court today.