back to article Microsoft drives German patent tank into Google's front room

Microsoft has won a patent case against Google's Motorola Mobililty that is really about the Android operating system. The judge in Munich's Regional Court said that the OS infringed on part of a Microsoft patent on inputs and has banned the offending products pending a $61.4 million from Redmond, according to Munich magazine …


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  1. EddieD

    Horse trading..

    In Germany Microsoft have injuctions pending from Google regarding the h.264 standard...can anyone else see mutual cross licensing here?

    I think the 2000teens will be remembered as the decade of litigation instead of innovation

  2. Steve Evans

    Welcome to software patents - we tried to warn them...

    1. Paul 135

      How are software patents applicable to Germany?

      1. Tom 35

        Good question

        But how could "Slide to unlock" be anything but a software patent... Apple won in Germany on that patent.

        That's why I said Germany looks like it is the new Texas for international trolls. No patent is too crap for them.

  3. dotdavid

    Axis of weasle

    Microsoft has obviously decided they are in serious danger of losing their "world's most hated company" crown to Apple, and are taking the appropriate remedial measures in court.

    That said, Android *is* becoming their most successful product thanks to their strong-arming of Android OEMs into paying into their cushy little patent-based protection racket, so perhaps it's just defending revenue streams.

    1. Panzerbjorn

      Re: Axis of weasle

      And at least their licensing deals must be relaxed enough that it's easier to pay than to risk getting products forced off the shelves like Apple vs Samsung...

  4. A J Stiles

    Appeal against the decision

    Does German patent law include a prior art / non-obviety test? Are the claims outside the scope of patentability?

    If so, Motorola can launch a two-pronged attack. (1) Try to get the patents overturned as falsely-granted and (2) Sue Microsoft for damages on the basis that they should have known all along that the patents they were using were bogus.

  5. PassiveSmoking

    From what I've read (and admittedly this is the first time I've seen the story commented upon in the tech press) it's basically a patent on an intermediate layer between business logic and user interface. MVC made its first appearance in the 70s and I'm sure the idea of decoupling business logic from the user interface is older than that.

    Surely this would fail the "obviousness" test, as pretty much any decent software engineer would seek to decouple business logic from presentation and interaction elements with an intermediate layer. It's simply the application to a well known technique to an area where it would be patently obvious (no pun intended) to apply it.

    Are Microsoft going to sue any non-Microsoft operating system that includes keyboard drivers next?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Yes. I'm assuming that it is EP 1040406 (mentioned in the linked German report) and I cannot see how the patent goes beyond the insanely obvious idea of drawing a keyboard on a touch screen and letting it post keystrokes to applications through the standard OS pathway.

      The patent seems to make much of the fact that the virtual keyboard plugs into the same interfaces as a real one, but for me that would be a basic functional requirement (as well as being MIND-NUMBINGLY obvious).

      1. h4rm0ny

        If it really is that elementary, then this patent should be thrown out. How old is this patent? I can imagine twenty years ago, having a virtual keyboard on a touch-screen seemed an amazing idea, but even then it should have been seen as an inevitable progression. By all means copyright your code, but patenting having a virtual keyboard call the same functions as a a real keyboard is just good design (if that's what the patent says).

        1. PassiveSmoking

          TRON had a scene where a guy typed on a software keyboard and that was the early eighties!

        2. Vic

          > I can imagine twenty years ago, having a virtual keyboard on a touch-screen seemed an amazing idea

          ...But not a *new* idea. We were doing such things with light-pens in the '70s. And I very much doubt it was novel then.


          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            We were doing such things with light-pens in the '70s.

            Yes - light pens date back to the 1950s, with MIT's Whirlwind (which also introduced video displays, so the two technologies are contemporaneous).

            Infrared-LED "touch" screens, which detected objects near the surface of the screen when they interrupted infrared beams projected across the surface, go back at least as far as 1980 or so. GM - as part of the long tradition of putting idiotic user interfaces in cars - had a touchscreen in some of its cars in the mid-80s. I don't think any of those had sufficient resolution to be used as a keyboard; the ones I saw divided the screen into a handful of zones. But getting from that to "virtual keyboard" is obvious even for a non-practitioner.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        As well as going back ~50 years, in its basic conception, to OS/360 device independence.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious patents

    If a screen is small, the need to have alternative input than QWERTY is obvious and none of MS's "patented solutions" attack the problem in any way that could be called novel by anyone who has seen protocol translation schemes implemented for, oh, the last 60 years or so.

    Scrap patents completely. Copyright is enough; patents are barbaric holdovers from the days of Divine Right.

  7. mark 63 Silver badge

    "The patent in question deals with input on touchscreen devices like pop-up keyboards and how they pass data to underlying apps"

    How do they know? have they got the source code?

    and how can something as everyday and simple as that possibly be patented?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      have they got the source code?

      Yes, Google gives it away.

  8. yossarianuk


    Right I hope Google puts as much effort as possible into antitrust suits against Microsoft.

    Windows 8 is a potential antitrust minefield with secure boot looking out rival OS's (including other MS OS's) from WinRT devices and theres the whole browser thing again

    Again Microsoft/Apple are ruling with Lawyers rather than making good products

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You cant believe that these people run companies

    'Microsoft was understandably chuffed with the ruling.' - you and all the other companies that think you are so intelligent with your little patent wars are nothing more that children in a playground - grow up.

  10. Tom 35


    The new Texas for international trolls?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's odd

    If this was Apple instead of Microsoft, there would be over 100 whiney comments by now by people spouting recycled fabricated crap about Apple patenting 'rounded corners' (still waiting for this mystical patent number incidentally).

    Also the writing is less inflammatory. What gives? To Microsoft sponsor the Reg or something..? Or have the Samsung shills now been returned to their WoW sweatshops?

    1. Alan D

      Re: That's odd

      Re: "still waiting for this mystical patent number incidentally"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's odd

        That's a design patent for the iPhone 3G / 3GS.

        Where is the patent that says Apple own 'rounded corners'? As in, no case design, no button locations, no fascia details, just 'rounded corners'.

        Oh that's right - it doesn't exist because it's total bullshit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's odd

          This may be as close as you will get (It's about the shape and form as a whole, not just rounded corners - but rounded corners are in there).

          Claim: "The ornamental design of an electronic device substantially as shown and described "

          Patent number: D593087

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That's odd

            "This may be as close as you will get (It's about the shape and form as a whole, not just rounded corners - but rounded corners are in there)."

            So what about this Samsung design patent?


            Please note in particular:

            Claim: "The ornamental design of an electronic device substantially as shown and described"

   does this mean Samsung own 'rounded corners' also?

            It is utter, total, fabricated, willfully ignorant bullshit to suggest any company owns 'rounded corners'. That was Samsung propaganda from day one.

        2. Mark .

          Re: That's odd

          If it's wrong, then blame all the media that are claiming Samsung copied Apple, and claiming they have a patent on the look.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's odd

      "f this was Apple instead of Microsoft"

      Not everything is about Apple, princess. Anyway - what are you doing here? Why aren't you lined up outside an Apple store waiting for your stretched iPhone4 with crap maps?

  12. Anonymous South African Coward


    ...patents do blow donkey balls.

    High time to scrap the whole kaboodle and Redo From Start.

    I'm getting tired of hearing of Y suing Z because of X and A ... BLEH!!!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you can't innovate, litigate...

    If you can't compete, cheat...

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Is this how the Germans get all that work done?

    They don't have any cell phones any more?

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Is this how the Germans get all that work done?

      They don't have any cell phones any more?

      Oh no! Where is mein handi?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this how the Germans get all that work done?


        "Ach nein! Wo ist mein handi?"

  15. Carl

    Article schmarticle

    The article fails to mention that Microsoft (Germany) is already the subject of an injunction on its products _in Germany_ at the behest of Motorola (Germany) thanks to the formers' violation of the latters' patents. Neither does the article mention MS going crying to a state judge in Seattle who they pursauded to "stay" the injunction in Germany.

    Now, how a state curcuit judge in Seattle has jurisdiction in Germany is a mystery to me. What isn't a mystery is Microsoft's continuing propaganda, to which this article plays nicely.

    Go look at Groklaw if you want the facts.

  16. Infernoz Bronze badge

    Yet another area dripping with Prior Art; what a load of dummkopfs that court must be!

    Microsoft are patent trolls who seek to extort money with recycled ideas.

    On screen Keyboards have been around for over a decade e.g. for touch screen POS systems, touch screen public lookup systems, and in the jQuery Javascript framework! It is irrelevant if they use MVC. Pop-up windows are nothing amazing either given primitive forms of this were found in MSDOS programs which Microsoft do not own!

    There should be a new bonus points target for Demolition Derby like video games, Patent Lawyers and incompetent Patent Clerks/Examiners!

  17. SpitefulGOD

    Patents suck

    I'm no android fanboi but patents blow, hold everyone back.

  18. Steven Roper

    Ah yes, Germany

    Where the patent judges all come from Texas.

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