Microsoft-Google patent trial nears close

21 Nov, 2012

Week-long trial, aimed at working out the royalty payments Google is owed by Microsoft for Motorola patents, finishes up.

A Google expert witness testified yesterday that Microsoft will make roughly $94 billion in revenue through 2017 from its Xbox game console and Surface tablet that use the search giant's patented wireless technology.

Michael Dansky, an expert for Google's Motorola Mobility unit, testified on the last day of a high stakes trial over patents between Microsoft and Google in Seattle.

The $94 billion figure he cited also includes a wireless adapter that Microsoft no longer sells. It was not clear how far back he was counting past revenues.

Microsoft declined to comment on the figure.

The week-long trial in a Seattle federal court examined how much of a royalty Microsoft should pay Google for a license to some of Motorola's patents.

Google bought Motorola earlier this year for $12.5 billion, partly for its library of communications patents.

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.

If US 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.

The rapid rise of smartphones has sparked an explosion of litigation between major players disputing ownership of the underlying technology and the design of handsets.

You will have a difficult time selling smartphones or tablets without Motorola's technology.

Apple and Microsoft have been litigating in courts around the world against Google and partners like Samsung Electronics, 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.

In return, Motorola and some other Android hardware makers launched countering legal action.

Before the trial, Robart said testimony about patent license agreements between Microsoft, Motorola and other tech companies could be disclosed to the public, along with other sensitive financial information.

However, the judge reversed himself this week and said he was bound by appellate precedent to keep that information secret. On Tuesday he cleared the courtroom and heard two hours of testimony in secret.

During the open session, Dansky said Motorola's video patents are crucial to Microsoft and other tech companies, and deserve a high royalty.

"You will have a difficult time selling smart phones or tablets," Dansky said, without Motorola's technology.

Robart is not expected to release a ruling for several weeks as both companies must file further legal briefs.