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Judge throws out 13 Motorola patent claims against Microsoft

A Seattle judge has thrown out 13 patent claims that Motorola asserted against Microsoft.

The decision covers technology related to three patents for coding and decoding digital video content, and narrows down the two companies' patent dispute on that aspect, at least.

The decision comes about two months after the same court denied Motorola's request for an injunction against Microsoft products that the Google-owned company claim infringe on its patents.

The case dates back to 2010, when Microsoft and Motorola tried to hash out a patent licensing agreement over 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN) and H.264 advanced video coding patents. The patents are considered to be standards essential, meaning that most high-tech devices currently utilise the technology. Companies that own the patents, therefore, need to license them under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND), even to rivals.

Microsoft uses the technology covered by the patents in everything from its Xbox gaming console to the Windows platform. Back in October 2010, Motorola offered to license the 802.11 and H.264 patents to Microsoft at a rate of 2.25 per cent per product sold. Microsoft, however, argued that the rate was unreasonable and filed suit, and the two have been at loggerheads ever since.

Motorola has pledged to license its patents on FRAND terms, so the court is now working to determine a proper royalty rate to which Microsoft and Motorola must adhere. The issue was considered during a trial that ran from 13 - 21 November. At this point, "the court has taken the matter under submission and will issue a written order adjudicating a [FRAND] rate and range for Motorola's relevant patents," Judge Robart wrote in December. Reuters said a decision on that point is expected in the next few weeks.

In the midst of this patent fight, Motorola Mobility was acquired by Google, and the search giant inherited Motorola's patent battles. That was made clear in early January when the Federal Trade Commission ruled that Google's Motorola subsidiary must license its standard-essential patents on a fair and reasonable basis. Google agreed to a consent order that prohibits it from seeking injunctions on products from companies that are willing to sign licensing deals.