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Microsoft’s Going to Sue Google over Google Maps

Motorola is the only one left of the significant members of the Android clique that hasn’t buckled under to Microsoft’s demands

OK, so Apple can't find Paris on its maps. At least its maps aren't under imminent threat of an injunction for patent infringement, which could happen to Google in Germany unless it authorizes its Motorola Mobility subsidiary to pay Microsoft the royalties it wants for its claims against Android and Chrome.

Motorola is the only one left of the significant members of the Android clique that hasn't buckled under to Microsoft's demands and that's only because Google has a really bad case of the Microsoft Derangement Syndrome, a variant of the Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Anyway, Motorola Mobility thought it would get a few quick injunctions in Germany against Microsoft and Apple. As a result there's not a single Motorola Android device left on the German market - they've all been enjoined - while Microsoft and Apple's products remain unscathed.

So, since there are no more Motorola widgets left for Microsoft to bedevil, it's moved on to services and is currently suing Motorola for infringing a Microsoft patent with its Android Google Maps.

During a hearing Thursday in the Munich I Regional Court, Microsoft's lead counsel, Tilman Müller-Stoy, announced that the complaint against Motorola will be amended to include Google, whose server infrastructure runs the Google Maps Android app, as a defendant.

According to Florian, Müller, who writes the FOSS Patents blog and was in the court, Müller-Stoy just wanted to know if Motorola Mobility's lead German counsel Marcus Grosch of Quinn Emanuel would accept the amended complaint on behalf of Google or if the amended complaint will have to be served on Google in the United States, delaying the case which is set to go to trial on March 7, 2013, five months from now.

Grosch said he will know sometime in the next two weeks.

Florian says that "a direct Microsoft-Google patent infringement action is unprecedented, and it could affect Google Maps way beyond Motorola's gadgets due to the fact that German courts order general ‘obey the law' injunctions barring a defendant from any infringement of a given patent claim."

He also points out that there's no such thing as discovery in Germany and, although Microsoft could subpoena Google, it would have to know exactly who to call to testify and even if it did they might not show up. So the only thing to do is sue Google, which "will have to admit or explicitly deny Microsoft's infringement allegations concerning the inner workings of Google Maps."

Microsoft contends that Google Maps trespasses on its European Patent 0845124, the equivalent of its US Patent 6,240,360 on a "computer system for identifying local resources and method therefore." The claims include over-the-Internet geotagging. The patent is three years old than Google.

In case you get the idea that Google isn't closely watching what's going on in Munich, Florian said that none of Motorola's lawyers showed up for the hearing. Instead Motorola was represented by one of Google's in-house lawyers Karen Robinson out of Mountain View, California. Florian believes that proves that "Google not only remote-controls but even micromanages Motorola's litigation, at least when one of Google's key online services is at issue."

Presiding Judge Matthias Zigann asked if the parties were willing to settle and Microsoft's lawyer said this whole "theatre" would go dark if Motorola took a license to Redmond's patents. Motorola didn't make any noises that it was prepared to settle.

Florian, who has yet to fully debrief about Microsoft's case, says "Google cannot win this patent dispute" but since it doesn't want to pay Microsoft royalties "Google Maps may become unavailable in Germany next spring as collateral damage of Google's unwillingness to address Android's massive, court-validated patent infringement issues."

See www.fosspatents.com/2012/10/microsoft-tells-german-court-it-will.html.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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