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How much are Google's Motorola patents really worth?

Motorola Atrix

By Reuters

Posted on 13 Nov 2012 at 10:14

Microsoft and Google's Motorola Mobility unit are set to square off today at a trial which could reveal financial information the two companies usually keep under wraps.

The proceeding in a Seattle federal court will determine how much of a royalty Microsoft should pay Google for a licence to some of Motorola's patents. Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion, partly for its library of communications patents.

If 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.

Apple and Microsoft have been litigating in courts around the world against Google and partners such as 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.

Motorola had sought up to $4 billion a year for its wireless and video patents, while Microsoft argues its rival deserves just over $1 million a year. A federal judge in Wisconsin last week threw out a similar case brought by Apple against Google just before trial.

During the run-up to trial in Seattle, both Microsoft and Google asked Robart to keep secret a range of financial details about the two companies, including licensing deals and sales revenue projections. Google requested that Robart clear the courtroom when witnesses discuss those details.

However, in an order on Monday, Robart rejected that request. The public will not be able to view the documents describing patent deals or company sales during trial, Robart ruled, but testimony will be in open court.

"If a witness discloses pertinent terms, rates or payments, such information will necessarily be made public," the judge wrote.

Additionally, any documents the judge relies on for his final opinion will be disclosed.

Representatives for Microsoft and Google could not immediately comment on the ruling.

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User comments

Patents

The scourge of innovation. The biggest enabler of monopolies in the world.
And they're not even a bad thing in essence.. just a concept that has been transferred onto things that should not be patentable.

By dubiou on 13 Nov 2012

@dubiou

Agreed. This charade does not seem to benefit anyone except the lawyers.

Some credit should be given for the invention of nice bouncing animations etc., however the sums being claimed are ridiculous.

As for the rounded corners patent. That merely adds comedy value.

The big advantage of patents is that big companies can hit small companies with them. Unfortunately the converse does not apply. Apple have made a point of stealing other peoples ideas, and few have been paid for them.

By tirons1 on 13 Nov 2012

Nothing wrong with patents

The issue is that it seems a lot of patents in the tech sphere are given for the concept of what something does, rather than for the method of how it actually does something, which is ridiculous seeing as almost companies involved in modern tech are only where they are now thanks to the progress made by those that went before them. There are endless industries that would not exist as they do today if there hadn't been the freedom to adopt ideas and improve on them using different techniques.

By Phoomeister on 14 Nov 2012

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