back to article Motorola Mobility loses to Microsoft in German patent battle

Motorola Mobility has suffered another blow in Europe, with a German court deciding it’s breached Microsoft patents. Already under EU investigation for allegedly reneging on its FRAND responsibilities, Motorola Mobility has been found to be infringing Redmond’s IP by allowing users of its mobile phones to send long text …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And which

    Imbicile issued that patent?

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: And which

      The same "imbicile" that can't spell "imbecile", perhaps?

      Believe it or not, none of this shit would be happening if the voters in the relevant nations would get off their arses and do something about their politicians and increasingly intractable legal systems. Unfortunately, most politicians come from a legal (or accounting) background, so their default response to every problem is to create new laws (or accounting rules) to "solve" it.

      It's already impossible for a layperson to be fully cognisant of every single aspect of every law they are subject to, so the "ignorance of the law" excuse is becoming increasingly valid. Lawmakers need to read up on the "KISS" principle. The more laws you make, the harder it is for people to understand them, let alone abide by every one of them.

      If this continues, it will eventually be impossible to avoid breaking at least one law during one's lifetime.

      1. Shadowmanx2009

        Re: And which

        "If this continues, it will eventually be impossible to avoid breaking at least one law during one's lifetime."

        Already impossible! If you drive like most people then you most likely break the speed limits on a daily basis.

        1. CJ Bill

          Re: And which

          "Already impossible! If you drive"...

          IF you drive. I don't

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And which

            And if you've never sworn in public, been drunk in public (including the pub itself),cycled on a footpath, gone across a red light on a bike, used a pedestrian crossing whilst mounted on a bike (except Tucan crossings), and on and on.

        2. g e

          Re: And which

          That's OK, the speed limit in the UK is 110mph on motorways

          Errr.. isn't it ?

      2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: And which

        @Sean Timarco Baggaley

        The more laws you make, the harder it is for people to understand them

        The more lawyers you need understand them (and collect a HUGE fee for doing so).

        Lawyer = icon

  2. jnffarrell1

    MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

    Once MS sees the folly of believing its own PR and faces deep and continuing legal assault on the very basis of its misnamed Intellectual Property it will wish it never took the bullies path to profits.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

      Because, of course, no other company is throwing their patent lawyers around at its rivals, right?

      Corporations are OBLIGED to defend their IP. IT IS THE LAW. THEY HAVE NO F*CKING CHOICE.

      Lawyers are not programmers. They are not engineers. They have no idea how "obvious" a technique may be: their default position is to attempt to patent everything, because the patent lawyer who screws up is going to lose his job.

      The USPTO simply cannot afford to keep up with the white heat of technological progress, so they operate a reactive, not proactive, system. Yes, they'll perform a cursory search, but the USPTO's lawyers are ALSO not programmers or engineers! They have no more clue what half that stuff means than your Auntie Gladys. They'll punch in some search terms into their database and make an educated guess as to whether whatever turns up is a close enough match to deny a new patent application, but if they were good enough to spot obviousness, they wouldn't be doing this job in the first place.

      And that's why patents like these get through. It's a systemic problem. A fundamental design flaw. Railing at Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. helps precisely not one whit. You need to change the laws.

      If you can't be bothered to do at least that much and prefer to just rant pointlessly about mere symptoms in thread after thread, the problem is you, not Microsoft.

      1. John Wilson

        Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

        Erm, no, they're not. Their obliged to maximize their profits (in the US), and some use patent law (as one judge has clearly pointed out) as a negotiating element in order to do that, but they are in no way obliged by law to defend their patents. Indeed, one of the ways companies have been trying to make money recently is by deliberately failing to defend their patents until they've become industry standard, and then selectively enforcing the patent with companies they need business leverage over (again, as the last paragraph in the article highlights).

        Now, in fairness it's possible you're mistaking patents for trademarks (this kind of thing happens when people use the nebulous term 'IP' outside of networking protocol discussions), where a company is obliged to defend their trademark or risk losing it. The same does not apply to patents, which can be selectively enforced, or not enforced at all, but the patent holder will continue to hold the patent.

      2. Sirius Lee

        Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

        " if they were good enough to spot obviousness, they wouldn't be doing this job in the first place"

        You say that but they could just be using their position for a bit of income while reformulating physics as we know it. It's happened before.

      3. Displacement Activity
        Paris Hilton

        Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

        There's no law (here, anyway) that says you have to defend your patents. That sort of law would be unworkable, anyway.

        And, in the companies I've worked in, it's not the lawyers who decide whether something is interesting enough to patent. The engineers are asked to put forward suggestions. The engineering knowledge of the lawyer is irrelevant.

        And the other patent offices have no problem keeping up with technology. In the UK, at least, the patent people are smart, and any search is far from cursory. Of course, they're helped by certain basic principles, such as "no perpetual machine machines, no Elephant-shaped buildings", and so on. I'm finding it hard to see how something as stupid as this Microsoft patent could have got as far as a German court, though. I thought they were fairly rational.

        But, I do agree that US law needs changing. The range of stuff ("all the works of man") that can be patented in the US is far too broad. If you fixed that, then the rest of us could stop wasting our time filing pointless and stupid method and process patents, and all the rest of it, just in case someone in the US does it first.

      4. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

        @Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Corporations are OBLIGED to defend their IP

        No they're not, they CHOOSE to patent every little shitty half baked idea so that they can do their up-most to screw other companies.

        Glad to hear that lawyers have no idea how "obvious" a technique may be, I'm off to patent an idea that if lawyers brief doesn't fit on a single page of paper then it can be split up and put on multiple pages of paper. Does anybody know the name of the estate agent who sold Richard Branson Necker Island?

        I'll bet Galileo's descendants are raging that he never patented the telescope.

      5. Arthur Dent

        Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

        "And that's why patents like these get through". It's a systemic problem. A fundamental design flaw. Railing at Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. helps precisely not one whit. You need to change the laws."

        The laws already require a technical inventive step and say you can't paint anything that's obvious to a competent practitioner who is au fait with teh state of the art. So maybe what's wanted is for them to be enforced by the courts, since the USPO is clearly not ghoing to do it. I'm not sure European patent offices are in general much better.

        Surely "breaking messages into shorter ones to facilitate transmission" has been there since very early data comms days; it's in HDLC, it's in TCP, it's in SNA, it's even in several good old Basic Mode protocols. And of course it goes back a lot further than that - people have been using two sheets of paper for long messages for quite a while, we even have sequence numbering of the fragments (books with page numbers date from centuries ago).

        Oh dear, are BT's adverts in violation of this IP, the ones that suggest you cut your very long phone calls into chenks of one hour or less so that you can have them for free (if you are on one of the tariffs where calls up to than one hour long to UK numbers are free) - or maybe inciting others to violate that IP?

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

      All of them???????????????????????????????????

  3. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Thank you, El Reg, for introducing me to...

    ... the word "stoush".

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: Thank you, El Reg, for introducing me to...

      The Scots version is "stushie" with broadly the same meaning...

  4. eulampios

    MS vs. non-MS

    Please, mind the difference:

    E.g., Google never sued anyone of any patent infringement. Sun did not sue Google for "Java IP infringement" . Now Larry and Oracle have tried to do exactly that and, thanks God, they lost! Apple tried to make a case on rectangular shapes.

    Another case is what MS, or Apple or any other "good" company patents and sues for is revolving around "innovative rectangular shapes", this is ridiculous.

    All IT patents must be abolished.

    1. dogged

      Re: MS vs. non-MS

      Yeah, google are lovely fluffy bunnies who love everyone, especially YOU. Riiiiiiight...

      Motorola have certainly sued over patents though. And this case was brought against Motorola, not Google.

      1. eulampios

        outmicrosoft Microsoft

        Not being evil is good enough for me.

        Motorola (through Google) was suing MS as a counterattack for the MS' incessant kicking Android manufacturers below the belt and to counter-react the MPEG-LA h264 conspiracy.

        A company should try very very hard to reach the level of MS' infamy and abomination. Apple is there, Oracle might be there soon.

        1. dogged
          Thumb Down

          Re: outmicrosoft Microsoft

          > Not being evil is good enough for me.

          Call me when you find a company that meets this requirement. Google certainly don't.

          1. eulampios

            dogged is not available at the moment, leave a msg after the beep....

            Keep calling you, you never answer :)

            1. dogged

              Re: dogged is not available at the moment, leave a msg after the beep....

              Who did you find?

  5. Wile E. Veteran

    Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

    Omigod, TCP/IP has been patented by M$! Breaking up a large message into smaller bits of a specified length must be covered, right? Therefore packets must be covered, right? M$ OWNS THE INTERNET! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!

    1. Arion

      Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

      +1 on the TCP front. It just seemed so obvious as prior art, it was the first thing to spring to mind on reading the article, I can't believe they got anywhere here.

      I wonder if TCP was brought up in court about this.

      1. Thorne

        Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

        Emails use to be broken into lines. Zip files were broken into disk sized files.

        Only a million examples of prior art. It's right up there with "slide to unlock"

        Idiots in the patent offices.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

          The idiots at the patent office I kind of sorta understand. What I don't get is the idiot lawyers Motorola employed to defend themselves. I would think that prior specific art out to exist from the days of pagers. I distinctly remember that was exactly the method they used to send long messages. To the point that they broke messages in the middle of a word to meet their text length requirement. Surely Motorola made some of those and they ought to constitute prior art.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

            Can't necessarily blame the lawyers, though. Oracle had some pretty good ones; see what it got them.

            I haven't found the particular patent, but thought splitting messages should have been obvious prior art, though. Heart, Kahn, Ornstein, Crowther, and Walden discussed it at some length in 1970 in "The interface message processor for the ARPA computer network" (easily available from the Association for Computing Machinery digital library). The research was done on a U. S. Government contract, I believe, and if patents were issued or relied upon they expired long ago.

        2. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

          The important thing is the use case of the parent, ie itscontext. This is breaking up something in the context of SMS.

          Otherwise breaking up a chocolate bar could be patented.

          1. Gordon 11
            IT Angle

            Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

            The important thing is the use case of the parent, i.e. it's context. This is breaking up something in the context of SMS.

            The context is having a message that is longer than the transmission unit. The fact that it is SMS is irrelevant.

            Splitting it up is then so obvious as to not even merit a mention - you just do it.

        3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

          Look earlier.

          The specific reason for uuencode/uudecode was to do exactly that - deal with the perl line IO buffer being to small on many systems.

          We are looking at ~ 60es to early 70es for that one, long before TCP.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

        Packets be damned; every sentence is made up of separated units we call 'words'; each of those of individual 'letters' and (gasp) each letter, or 'character', is made of a number of sequential bits... at which point does the 'breaking up a message' stop? Surely the prior art on this goes back as far as 'Hmm, there isn't enough room on this side of the clay tablet to fit all this cuneiform on; I'll turn it over and use the other side...'

        I have to agree: there's little point in software patents and a ridiculous amount of damage and wasted resources caused by them. Sure, copyright your code, your images, your data; trademark your logo and your *nonobvious* design features... but algorithms? Nah.

        The (generic) patent office approach of 'allow everything that isn't perpetual motion and let them fight it out in court is hardly an efficient way of doing things unless you happen to be a lazy public service... oh, wait...

        1. Skizz

          Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

          @Neill Barnes: Unless you're German, in which case you try to make every sentence just one big long word.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

            This is true (and also for other agglutinative languages) but you still have to save a bit at the end the verb to put.

    2. stanimir

      Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

      it's not TCP alone, UDP is the same. Actually anything larger than MTU (max transfer unit) gets split into smaller packets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Breaking up something large is PATENTED?

        Long a go people used to write something known as letters on something called paper.

        Often one piece of paper wouldn't suffice so you sometimes had to send multiple pieces of paper in one letter!

        1. eulampios

          @Mr ChriZ

          ....or papyri, or clay tablets

          I wonder, if MS got a hold of Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian patents?

  6. Dazed and Confused

    feature called program localization.

    You mean native language support?

    No idea of its origins but HP-UX had that when they released the PA-Risc version, so surely it has to be out of patent life by now.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Bob Vistakin

    Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing with the big boys when it comes to mobile

    It just doesn't seem right. Surely Motorola (first mobile call 1973) being sued by Microsoft (formed 1976) must have mountains of real, innovative IP Blamer and his losers are similarly "violating"?

    1. dogged

      Re: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing with the big boys when it comes to mobile

      Probably not.

      Microsoft are a software company, Motorola aren't (and even back to the V. days were renowned for shitty OS implementations, far worse than anything MS have ever inflicted on the world). Even now, Microsoft don't make phones. That means all those hardware patents Motorola stacked up over the years are essentially useless against them.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        @Dogged: Re: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing

        I doubt that Motorola's patent portfolio contains only hardware patents. Very much.

        1. dogged

          Re: @Stoneshop: Microsoft *must* be on dangerous ground messing

          That's true. I used to work for Motorola years ago as an RF engineer, designing logic and faultfinding on GSM base stations.

          They have a LOT of IP in the field of what you'd call BIOS on a computer and plenty regarding packet-switched network design and implementation, fault diagnostics and network maintenance.

          On the software that makes a phone work?

          Not so much anymore. They don't even use their own OS these days, or make their own chips. So yeah, Moto have a lot of IP. Almost none of it is relevant against a software company.

  9. MacroRodent Silver badge

    So much for obviousness

    Another proof that anything obvious can be patented these days, not to mention plenty of prior art as noted by others above. I recall I have been using a feature like this since forever on Nokia phones, but I guess it has a patent truce after going to bed with Microsoft, and does not have to worry about it.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I worked for a company called Spectronics Micro Systems near Cambridge 20-25 years ago, we designed and manufactured mobile data solutions, e.g. data terminals for use in vehicles such as the AA or taxis. Data messages that were long would be broken down into smaller chunks to improve the chance of them getting through, if they failed to get through the first time, they were broken down again and retried, etc. surely this is standard in all communication protocols isn't it? I wonder what the detail of the patent is.

    1. dogged

      You could offer yourself to Motorola as an expert witness in rendering this patent invalid but if nobody mentions your prior art in court, it's as if it never existed.

      So basically, if this offends you so much, telling us is just pissing the wind. Contact Motorola.

      1. osseo

        The real concern

        Prior art is not relevant at present. The German Court won't consider it in an infringement action. Motorola would need to take a separate revocation action before a separate Court. Quite likely they would win, but it would take years and meanwhile the infringement ruling stands.

        The real concern is that this system is about to be extended to the whole of Europe. Under the Unitary Patent, everyone will be sued in Germany, be injuncted and have to stop 'infringing' patents of very dubious validity. This is being done because " this is an issue of crucial importance for innovation and growth" (sic - van Rompuy). There is a faint hope that the UK may stand out against this, but Germany wants the system. The decision will be taken on 30 May. Don't just sit there, email your MEP!

  11. JDX Gold badge


    All these cases seem to be happening in Germany. How come?

    1. dogged

      Re: Germany

      Because German patent law is brutal and German courts are regarded as sympathetic. It's like suing in Delaware or East Texas.

  12. g e

    Really/ MS owns that?

    That's a really old OTA protocol for SMS if I remember right (and got my acronyms right) which allows you to set a number of messages and the individual message's number in the sequence in the header of each SMS so your phone can reassemble it.

    I'd really have thought Nokia or Moto would have had that one.

    Plus it's bleedin' obvious, too, and I'd have thought it would be FRAND, also due to its commonality in every phone for the last 15-odd years? Maybe it's the WAY Microsoft did it, e.g. only on Tuesdays after a particularly satisfying bowel movement, that makes it different if not the same thing.

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Really/ MS owns that?

      "after a particularly satisfying bowel movement" - it doesn't say how WP7 is related, but I'm sure it uses this stunning innovation too.

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Re: Really/ MS owns that?

      after a particularly satisfying bowel movement

      if it was in more than one piece you now owe MickeySoft a royalty payment.

      Mine's the one with..... eh you don't want to know what's in the pocket.

  13. Peter Galbavy

    it's not a real fight

    Don't get too surprised by the many directional nature of this to and fro in patent wars. It's all a phoney war (mind the pun...) intended to reinforce each big monolith's place in the industry. It's there to build barriers-to-entry against new and small competitors just like termination fees in telecoms networks - which 3 has been poorly fighting against for many years - and traffic based transit fees for smaller ISPs.

    As a large market player you quietly agree to charge your similar competitors a nice high fee which you know they will simply charge back to you roughly in balance; you come out no better or worse off but the little guy can happily go get screwed as they can't contra the charge on a like-for-like basis.

    Also, if they are not seen to "defend" their patents then how are they going to claim legitimacy for their FRAND rights against new entrants and reinforce the legal framework that appears so confused and stupid to most of us. If they didn't then the IP laws would start looking useless and politicians might start questioning their utility. After pocketing lobbying fees of course.

  14. Sirius Lee

    Software patents in the EU?

    Is there a link to the text of judgement anywhere? I'm confused about how any company is supposedly able to successfully sue over a software patent within the EU. Software patents are not permitted nor are foreign ones enforced in the EU. So what exactly has Microsoft won?

    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is a backdoor way to have the EU enforce software patents. Maybe Germany has been chosen because they are perceived as being more 'flexible' because these are capabilities that would benefit German businesses (imagine how must software there is in a BMW or Merc). Could a case won in Germany could set precedent in other jurisdictions or, at least, within the EU court?

    1. Displacement Activity

      Re: Software patents in the EU?

      Software patents have always been allowed in the UK, provided they meet various other criteria. I'm pretty sure that much of the rest of Europe is in the same situation.

    2. Tidosho

      Re: Software patents in the EU?

      @ Sirius: " (imagine how must software there is in a BMW or Merc)."

      Modern vehicles indeed do have a lot of software. The communications buses in these multiplex electronic CAN (Controller Area Network) systems is immense, as each system such as engine, ABS and auto transmissions have their own ECU (Electronic Control Unit) with software. Most CAN systems are made by Bosch so they own the patents, not the manufacturers unless they help develop the systems, but this varies.

      The same systems are used by Volvo in trucks and buses such as FH12 and B7RLE as well as other car manufacturers like Ford, Vauxhall and VAG (Volkswagen Audi Group). I work in a bus repair shop and am a time served mechanic, this stuff is even better geekery than standard computers!

  15. ukgnome


    All this blatant patent BS is slowing down tech achievements .

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Courts

    The courts should drag the Patent Office into the court room and fine them for wasting the court's time with sorting out corporate squabbling over software patents.

    May be after each court appearance and fine per software patent, the Patent Office will think twice giving out software patents.

  17. Samuel Penn

    Psion 7 did this

    I'm sure that the Psion 7 used to break long SMS messages into multiple smaller ones.

  18. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    Pretty sure concatenated SMS Messages

    Significantly pre-dates Microsoft's interest in the mobile market. I assume that's what the patent is all about.

  19. Bob Vistakin

    Ericsson R380 - launched 2000

    Blamer and his desperate losers better be sure no-one checks this kind of stuff out. Or does he think we're all as guillible as Nokia shareholders, letting them stick his puppet in as CEO?

  20. cortland

    Patent violations galore


    This message is part one of a

  21. cortland

    Patent violatiosn galore next part


    ...two part message.

    Snicker-snack, snicker-snack! Take THAT Bill Gates!

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