By Darrell Etherington
Today in a Mannheim court, a judge ruled that Motorola Mobility did not infringe on a Microsoft (MSFT) patent that deals with allowing software applications to work with a phone’s radio antennas across a range of different handsets, without having to build a custom means of doing so for each individual device. The victory for Motorola comes after three losses to Microsoft in German in patent cases, which have resulted in injunctions against smartphones made by the Google (GOOG) subsidiary.
While the handset injunctions have been a black eye for Motorola in Germany, where Motorola’s Droid and Atrix Android phones have been barred from sale for infringing on Microsoft’s FAT file system patent, this helps a good deal in protecting a very essential part of smartphone technology. Were Motorola to suffer a defeat in this case, the ramifications would result in problems for application developers. So this extends into the realm of defending Android itself, something Google was clearly hoping to be better able to do thanks to Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio.
Unfortunately for Motorola and Google, Microsoft also logged a win against a patent that could represent an essential core feature of Android, for "a method and system for receiving user input data into a computer system having a graphical windowing environment." Microsoft says that’s not something Google or Motorola can sidestep with design changes.
Today’s decision won’t have any effect on the Mannheim court’s past rulings, Microsoft’s legal team was quick to point out, according to Reuters. And Google has spent $12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility, so it was likely hoping for more checks in the win column. But at least it got something out of it in the ongoing global patent battle.