This past Tuesday, Judge James L. Robart held a telephonic hearing in the Microsoft-Motorola RAND breach of contract dispute taking place in his W.D. Wash. court. As we discussed last week, the hearing centered on Microsoft’s request that the court release a previously-ordered $100 million bond — a bond that it had required Microsoft to post in connection with a preliminary injunction order that prevented Motorola from enforcing a German standard-essential patent-related injunction. (For more background on this particular dispute, and the parties’ briefs, see our prior posts here and here).
The court hasn’t yet entered an order on the motion yet, but it appears that in an oral ruling during the telephonic hearing like Judge Robart sided with Microsoft. Today, Microsoft filed a proposed order on its motion (presumably at the direction of the court) that includes the following passage:
Microsoft’s justification for its original motion was that the bond was no longer needed, because the total royalties due to Motorola under the RAND rate determined by Judge Robart was a tiny fraction of $100M; Motorola contended that the bond’s purpose was not to secure payment, but to reimburse Motorola for harm caused during the inunction’s pendency in case Judge Robart’s ruling was overturned on appeal. In a reply brief filed this past Monday, Microsoft explained further that (1) the bond was only supposed to prevent harm to Motorola during the appeal of the preliminary injunction to the 9th Circuit, which has been resolved in Microsoft’s favor (although as we pointed out, the Federal Circuit probably should have heard that appeal instead); and (2) even if the bond was relevant to the ultimate resolution of the case, Motorola has already agreed with the FTC that it won’t seek injunctions against willing licensees such as Microsoft.
A transcript of the hearing isn’t available, so we don’t know the reason(s) why Judge Robart agreed to release the bond. Whatever it was, Microsoft has its money back — and the parties will continue marching toward a breach of contract jury trial that is now less than two months away.