Back in June, we alerted you to a number of infringement suits brought by licensors to the MPEG LA ATSC patent pool in the Southern District of Florida, targeting several television manufacturers — ViewSonic, Craig Electronics, and Curtis International. Yesterday, a different group of MPEG LA licensors filed suit on patents related to a different
For the second time in a couple of weeks, members of a standard-essential patent pool have filed an infringement lawsuit. Last month, it was Blu-ray patent pool One-Blue (and several licensors) filing suit against Imation Corp. Yesterday, a group of licensors to the MPEG LA Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) digital television patent pool…
This past Wednesday, the Blu-ray patent pool One-Blue, LLC and several of its licensors (Philips, Panasonic, Pioneer, and Sony) filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Delaware district court, accusing Imation Corp. of infringing several patents that are either essential or related to the Blu-ray Disc Assocation’s (BDA) Blu-ray standards.
A couple of weeks ago, we noted a peculiar minute order emanating from Judge James L. Robart’s courtroom in the Microsoft-Motorola RAND case. Based on his review of Google’s AVC/H.264 standard-essential patent pool license agreement with MPEG LA, Judge Robart asked the parties to submit short letter briefs addressing two questions regarding the relevance of the Enterprise License provision (Section 3.1.7) to any grantback license that Motorola (as a subsidiary of Google) might owe to Microsoft.
Late Friday, the parties submitted their respective answers to the court’s questions (Microsoft’s / Motorola’s). The parties’ answers and arguments show just how millions of dollars in royalties could turn on the interpretation of just a couple of short phrases in the MPEG LA agreement. After the jump, we’ll provide a short summary of both Microsoft’s and Motorola’s positions. Essentially, though, the parties’ arguments boil down to this — Was the MPEG LA agreement’s grantback provision designed to extend to all affiliates of a given licensee, whether those affiliates receive any benefits under the agreement or not?
[UPDATE] Since this post was originally published on January 22, the deadline passed for the parties to submit extrinsic evidence and additional arguments supporting their respective interpretations of the Google-MPEG LA AVC/H.264 license agreement. Microsoft submitted both a brief and a supporting Declaration of Lawrence A. Horn, who is the President and CEO of MPEG LA, LLC. Mr. Horn’s declaration supports Microsoft’s argument (as detailed in our original post below) that the scope of the grant-back under the MPEG LA license agreement extends to all Affiliates of Google, not just to those specifically identified. For its part, Motorola argues that the “scope” language of the MPEG LA agreement remains ambiguous, and that Mr. Horn’s declaration represents inadmissible hearsay because Motorola was unable to cross-examine him.
The parties’s respective briefs and Mr. Horn’s declaration may be accessed from the links below:
Judge Robart’s forthcoming opinion in the Microsoft v. Motorola RAND breach of contract case in the Western District of Washington is highly anticipated by those who pay attention to standard-essential patent disputes, as it will likely provide a judicially-sanctioned roadmap for how to determine RAND terms and conditions in a given licensing situation. But before he issues a written decision, a hearing is scheduled for January 28, during which Judge Robart will hear oral argument from Microsoft and Motorola regarding the implications that Google’s AVC/H.264 patent pool license agreement with MPEG-LA may have on the appropriate RAND terms for Motorola Mobility’s H.264-essential patent portfolio. (Google, of course, being the parent company of Motorola Mobility since it acquired Motorola in May 2012).
Because so many SEP-related issues have arisen over the past year, we will periodically revisit some of the more important occurrences with a brief post. The recent bench trial before Judge James L. Robart of the Western District of Washington between Microsoft and Motorola a may yield a groundbreaking opinion in the area of standard-essential patents, so this is a case that warrants a review.
The dispute between the parties originated back in the fall of 2010. Microsoft sued Motorola in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. International Trade Commission, accusing Motorola Android devices of infringing several Microsoft patents. Motorola in turn sent two letters to Microsoft, offered Microsoft licenses to two of Motorola’s standard-essential patent portfolio – for the 802.11 WiFi standard and the H.264 video coding standard – at a rate of 2.25% of the net selling price of the end products that practice those standards. Microsoft then filed a complaint in the W.D. Wash. against Motorola for breach of contract – specifically, Microsoft alleged that Motorola’s offers to Microsoft breached Motorola’s prior promises to the IEEE and the ITU to offer licenses to its 802.11 and H.264-essential patents on RAND terms.