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Microsoft v. Motorola Patent Trial Begins

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On Tuesday, Microsoft and Google's Motorola Mobility division will face off in court. The patent-related lawsuit is being closely watched because it concerns the difficult issue of how much companies can reasonably charge to license standards-related technology.

BBC News reported, "The firms dispute how much should be paid for a licence to use innovations necessary to be able to offer industry standard technologies. Google is claiming its rival should pay up to $4bn (£2.5bn) a year for its connectivity and video coding patents. Microsoft suggests they should be offered for just over $1m a year."

Janet I. Tu from The Seattle Times noted, "The trial stems from a lawsuit Microsoft filed in November 2010, claiming that Motorola breached its contract to provide, at reasonable rates, use of its patented technologies that have become part of industry standards in online-video viewing and wireless usage. (Private companies that hold such industry-standard patents agree, as part of joining international-standards groups, to license them under "fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory" -- or FRAND -- terms.)"

According to Computerworld's James Niccolai, "The trial will be in two parts. In the first, Robart will calculate a royalty rate for Motorola's patents. He'll make that decision on his own, without a jury. In the second part, expected to begin next week, a jury will use that rate to decide whether Motorola is in breach of contract by overcharging Microsoft."

Jon Brodkin from Ars Technica observed, "Robart's decision will be highly anticipated, and not just because of the big names involved in this trial." He added, "In the long run, the biggest impact may come in providing some clarity on how to calculate license payments for standards-essential patents."

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