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Originally published Friday, November 30, 2012 at 7:18 PM

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Microsoft wins in patent dispute with Motorola

The ruling means Motorola can’t enforce an injunction it won from a German court earlier this year that would have banned the sales of Xbox and Windows products in Germany.

Seattle Times technology reporter

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U.S. District Judge James Robart sided with Microsoft when he dismissed certain Motorola patent claims that could have led to restrictions on the sales of Xbox and Windows.

Motorola had sought injunctive relief — including bans on the import or sale of certain Microsoft products such as Xbox and Windows — for what it said was Microsoft’s violations of certain Motorola patents.

Robart’s ruling, handed down Thursday and released Friday, means Motorola can’t enforce an injunction it won from a German court earlier this year that would have banned the sales of Xbox and Windows products in Germany.

His decision also means, more broadly, that Motorola can’t seek import bans of Microsoft products into the U.S. or any other country, based on violations of Motorola patents related to H.264 video-streaming technology standards and 802.11 wireless connectivity technology standards.

Robart’s ruling also could affect a case Motorola has pending before the U.S. International Trade Commission, in which Motorola is seeking an import ban on Xbox consoles into the U.S. because the consoles contain Motorola patents related to those standards. (Xbox consoles are manufactured in China and other countries.)

Robart, a judge in U.S. District Court in Seattle, wrote in his ruling that he granted Microsoft’s motion because “Motorola has not shown it has suffered an irreparable injury or that remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate for its injury.”

Motorola, however, could appeal Robart’s decision.

Microsoft declined to comment on the decision. Motorola, now owned by Google, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Robart’s decision stems from a lawsuit Microsoft filed in November 2010, claiming Motorola breached its contract to provide, at reasonable rates, use of its patented technologies that have become part of industry standards in online-video viewing and wireless usage.

(Private companies that hold such industry-standard patents agree, as part of joining international-standards groups, to license them under “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory” — or FRAND — terms.)

Both sides presented their cases in a trial that was held in November.Robart is expected to issue a decision in that case early next year on what a reasonable royalty rate or range is for such patents — the first time a federal judge would be issuing such a ruling. After that, a jury would compare that reasonable rate with Motorola’s offer and determine whether Motorola breached its agreement.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @janettu.

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