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Apple Wins Patent Ruling Filed by Motorola in Germany

Apple has won a patent ruling in Germany today that is seen as a major blow for Google and their acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

The new ruling isn’t the end of the patent war, but at the heart of the matter is that Motorola is trying to prevent a licensing deal with its competitors for technologies that should be protected under the FRAND framework (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory).

The German courts decided today that the patents in question should be protected by FRAND, which means they should be offered in a license deal to Apple, amongst others, and if they aren’t it would be a violation of antitrust regulations by Motorola.

Google and Motorola’s plan was to enforce these patents rulings against its rivals like Apple and Microsoft. But today’s decision would force Motorola to license the patents in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manor, rather than seeking retail bans against its rivals and unrealistic licensing deals.

This is such a major blow to Google’s patent strategy that, from a mere shareholder value point of view, it should now give serious consideration to the possibility of coughing up the $2.5bn break-up fee agreed upon with (Motorola Mobility’s) board of directors and walk out on this deal” said patent expert Florian Mueller.

The two firms have long been engaged in a courtroom war over alleged patent violations in the Android and iOS platforms – with neither party willing to come to an amicable agreement. At the moment the only winners are the lawyers who must be rubbing their hands at the prospect of years worth of litigation.

The patent war is far from over, but if this ruling does hold it would greatly reduce the worth of Motorola’s patents as they would be seen as “standard essentials” for many products and therefore must be available to license in a fair way – something the German courts seem to think Motorola isn’t doing.

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