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Judge: Motorola can't bar Microsoft sales in Germany

Microsoft won't be barred from selling products using Google/Motorola Mobility's video patent technologies -- at least until April 17, a district court judge has ruled.

A U.S. district court judge ruled today that Motorola Mobility won't be able to stop Microsoft from selling products, including Windows and the Xbox, in Germany for the time being.

That's the latest episode in the Microsoft vs. Motorola patent battle, which has been going on for the past couple of years.

According to today's ruling, handed down late in the day, Microsoft was granted an injunction and temporary restraining order against Motorola, which was seeking to stop Microsoft from selling certain products in Germany. The decision means that Motorola will not be able to stop Microsoft from shipping products in Germany until after the U.S. courts have made a decision about whether Motorola is breaching its promise to provide at reasonable rates the use of its video patents around H.264. A Microsoft spokesperson said the German court decision will not go into effect until after the ruling in the U.S. court of the November 2010 lawsuit, and that this case will be determined later this year.

The Seattle Times has good backgrounder on the case.

"Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms. Today's ruling means Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise," said David Howard, deputy general counsel for Microsoft, in a statement provided by Microsoft.

The legal tit-for-tat between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility has been going on for close to a year and a half. In November 2010, Microsoft sued Motorola again over wireless and video coding patents that are used by the Xbox and smartphones. Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola retaliated with its own countersuit, claiming infringement of 16 of its patents by Microsoft's PC and server software, Windows Mobile and Xbox products.

This year, in February, Microsoft filed a formal complaint over Motorola Mobility's -- and parent Google's -- policies around making standard, essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. Microsoft specifically is targeting the amount Motorola Mobility's is seeking Microsoft to pay for licensing video patents.

As a preemptive move, Microsoft earlier this month pulled its European distribution center out Germany and announced plans to establish a new European distribution center in the Netherlands.

This story was first posted as "Patent ruling: Motorola can't bar Microsoft from selling Windows, Xbox in Germany" at ZDNet's All About Microsoft.