Judge bans Microsoft products in Germany

But Motorola can't enforce the injunction under a ruling made by an American judge in a lawsuit predating the German court case by eight months.

As part of a case filed in November 2010, Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state granted a temporary restraining order on April 11 at Microsoft's request and is scheduled to hear arguments May 7 on a Microsoft motion for summary judgment claiming Motorola breached an agreement to license the patents on a "Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (FRAND) basis.

The German patent suit did not begin until June 2011.

Motorola had demanded royalties from Microsoft that would have, by some accounts, amounted to approximately $4 billion annually. Microsoft's refusal of those terms is what led to the latest round of lawsuits.

At the time the temporary restraining order was granted, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard complained that Motorola had "promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms."

Howard said the April ruling meant that Motorola "can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise."

Even in the absence of Robart's order, Motorola might not have moved to immediately enforce the German ruling because it would be liable for damages if a higher court were to overturn it. The German court required Motorola to post a bond of several hundred million Euros as a prerequisite to enforcement.

Moreover, the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court can suspend or overturn the injunction if it determines that Microsoft's appeal is likely to succeed. The court, for example, could determine that Motorola's abuse of the FRAND doctrine is so egregious that it could stay enforcement for the length of Microsoft's appeal, which could take more than a year and a half.

A Microsoft spokesperson called the ruling "one step in a long process," and said the company is "confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web."

Spokespersons for Motorola did not immediately responded to requests for comment.