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Motorola's entire Android lineup banned in Germany

July 27, 2012

Apple might have been in the spotlight with its ongoing legal fights against Android, especially now that it has actually started winning, but Microsoft is clearly the most effective patent “fighter”. The Windows creators scored what looked like an unimportant US win against Motorola a few weeks back, and now added a much more significant victory in a German court.

The Mannheim Regional Court ruled in favor of Microsoft in a longstanding, but not very publicly visible trial, and granted a ban on a bunch of Motorola devices. In fact, Moto won’t be able to sell any of its Android-based gadgets in Germany anymore, as the company’s entire portfolio is in infringement of a File Allocation Table (FAT) patent.

Motorola’s loss isn’t a very surprising one, but for some reason Google’s subsidiary stubbornly refused to take a so-called royalty-bearing patent license from Microsoft. Basically all of today’s Android devices use FAT systems, and, besides Moto, every major manufacturer has closed a deal with Microsoft to make use of the file system architecture.

Of course, the Mannheim Regional Court’s ruling on the matter is not final and can be attacked with an appeal. But until the appeal will be dealt with, Motorola will be unable to sell its entire range of Android devices, including the popular Razr and Razr Maxx, in one of the biggest European markets.

The ruling might cause Moto even more serious headaches in the following months, as Microsoft and Motorola are fighting over the same patent in an US court. And while Germany is an important, but not crucial market for Motorola, a sweeping ban in the US could spell ruin.

Judge Andreas Voss, whom you might know from other similar trials, has already denied Motorola a motion to stay the ban. That means the judge doesn’t think Moto has a probable chance of overturning his decision, which makes the following appeals almost useless.

On the other hand, Motorola does have one ace up its sleeve, but that might prove a huge hassle for regular users. In order to lift the ban and avoid any future quarrels with Microsoft on the matter, Motorola simply has to stop using the FAT file system on its Android devices and go for one of the Linux alternatives.

That doesn’t sound like a hard thing to do, but in reality it might consume valuable resources, time and money for Motorola. At the same time, shitching file systems might make transferring files between an Android device and a PC a living hell.

Speaking about money, the German injunction hasn’t yet been officially instated, as Microsoft needs to pay a 10 million Euro (around $12.2 m) bond first. That’s surely only a formality, though, because the injunction guarantees Microsoft a yet to be determined, but most likely hefty financial compensation from Motorola.

That’s all for now about the legal feud between Microsoft and Motorola, but things have just started to heat up, so keep in touch with our website for regular updates. Also, in the meantime, we would love to hear your opinions about these bickering, and how you think Motorola’s (or rather Google’s) legal problems will be solved.