Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has secured a key victory over Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the patent war between the two companies. The specific case dealt with a technology for text messaging used by Android devices in Germay. The court ruled that Microsoft’s patent in the area was infringed upon by Motorola Mobility, a company which Google has just acquired for $12.5 billion.
The ruling means it will be possible for Microsoft to enforce a ban on the sale of Android devices in Germany, the largest market in Europe. If the company chose to enforce that punishment Google would have few desirable choices. The company could abandon the German market hoping for appeal, or change their system for text messaging so it is in line with the new patents. Microsoft will be able to extract royalties from the company in order to use the patents.
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The battle is a lesser known front in the glorious patent wars that have slowed progress in the tech industry for years now. The most often talked about battle is the ongoing dispute between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics over the design of the company’s tablet devices.
In the past year many more battles have broken out many being brought by smaller companies that simply hold portfolios of patents and look to collect royalties on them. Facebook and Yahoo are also involved in a large scale public battle over some intellectual property.
When Google acquired Motorola it was suggested that the company did so for the vast store of mobile patents at Motorola’s disposal. That strategy seems to have failed today leaving the firm at the mercy of Microsoft’s legal team and Germany’s justice.
The win means that Microsoft may be able to extract a great deal of money from Google in a settlement between the two firms. They may seek to settle the dispute at this stage after the decision on this patent. Motorola will likely wait and try to appeal the decision before they let Microsoft decide their fate.
The patent war is continuing and it is not showing any signs of slowing down. The players involved seem confident in the rightness of their actions as a business strategy. Patent wars are bad for business. They increase costs and distract companies from what they should be doing. As soon as the executives at these companies realize that the industry can get back to what its good at and leave the legal mines behind.