Microsoft vs Google patents trial finishes up

LISA DEMBICZAK
Last updated 10:32 22/11/2012

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A Google expert witness has testified that Microsoft will make roughly US$94 billion in revenue through 2017 from its Xbox game console and Surface tablet that use Google's patented wireless technology.

Michael Dansky, an expert for Google's Motorola Mobility unit, testified on the last day of a high stakes trial over patents between Microsoft and Google in Seattle. The US$94 billion figure he cited also includes a wireless adapter that Microsoft no longer sells. It was not clear how far back he was counting past revenues.

Microsoft declined comment on the figure.

The week-long trial in a Seattle federal court examined how much of a royalty Microsoft should pay Google for a license to some of Motorola's patents. Google bought Motorola earlier this year for US$12.5 billion, partly for its library of communications patents.

Motorola had sought up to US$4 billion a year for its wireless and video patents, while Microsoft argues its rival deserves just over US$1 million a year.

If US District Judge James Robart decides Google deserves only a small royalty, then its Motorola patents would be a weaker bargaining chip for Google to negotiate licensing deals with rivals.

The rapid rise of smartphones has sparked an explosion of litigation between major players disputing ownership of the underlying technology and the design of handsets.

Apple and Microsoft have been litigating in courts around the world against Google and partners like Samsung, which use the Android operating system on their mobile devices.

Apple contends that Android is basically a copy of its iOS smartphone software, and Microsoft holds patents that it contends cover a number of Android features.

In return, Motorola and some other Android hardware makers launched countering legal action.

Before trial, Robart said testimony about patent license agreements between Microsoft, Motorola and other tech companies could be disclosed to the public, along with other sensitive financial information.

However, the judge reversed himself this week and said he was bound by appellate precedent to keep that information secret. On Tuesday he cleared the courtroom and heard two hours of testimony in secret.

During the open session, Dansky said Motorola's video patents are crucial to Microsoft and other tech companies, and deserve a high royalty.

"You will have a difficult time selling smart phones or tablets," Dansky said, without Motorola's technology.

Robart is not expected to release a ruling for several weeks as both companies must file further legal briefs.

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The case in US District Court, Western District of Washington is Microsoft Corp vs. Motorola Inc, 10-cv-1823.

- Reuters

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