US Judge Forbids Motorola From Using German Injunction Against Microsoft

from the do-as-you-would-be-done-by dept

Here’s an interesting development in the legal battle between Microsoft and Motorola in Germany that we discussed recently. It seems that Microsoft is worried that the German court might award Motorola an injunction against it, and so has asked a US judge to stop Motorola from using it in that case — and he agreed:

In an unusual case, a U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that Motorola cannot enforce an injunction that would prevent Microsoft from selling Windows products in Germany, should a German court issue such an injunction next week.

So this is a US judge forbidding a company from applying an injunction that it might be awarded in Germany, by a German court. That sounds rather like one jurisdiction is interfering with another, but Microsoft apparently thinks that’s reasonable:

Microsoft argued that if the judge would allow that German injunction to go forward, which ultimately might compel Microsoft to negotiate a license according to German law, the U.S. court would lose its opportunity to make its own ruling on similar licensing issues. The U.S. court should be the one to rule on that issue, Microsoft argued, because Microsoft filed its lawsuit against Motorola over the terms of a licensing deal before Motorola filed its suit in Germany.

It’s striking that Microsoft isn’t such a big fan of patent courts — especially efficient ones that produce their judgments rapidly — when it is on the receiving end of patent lawsuits, rather than the one making the threats.

It’s also pretty rich that Microsoft should complain about the possibility of an injunction being granted against it by another jurisdiction when that is precisely what it is trying to do by filing an action against Motorola in the International Trade Commission as well as in a US District Court. If Microsoft says German courts shouldn’t get involved in its dispute with Motorola, it’s equally ridiculous that an international trade body should be dragged into a domestic dispute between two US companies, as Techdirt has noted before.

Basically, Microsoft is just whining because it thinks it’s going to lose in Germany, and has gone running to the US judge in an attempt to subvert that country’s judicial system. It’s a huge pity that he acceded to this ridiculous request: it creates a terrible precedent that’s likely to lead to more such interference in the legal systems of other countries — including foreign courts ordering companies not to obey US rulings — and a general weakening of respect for the rule of law around the world.

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Companies: microsoft, motorola

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Comments on “US Judge Forbids Motorola From Using German Injunction Against Microsoft”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This could easily get ugly as various companies seek to punish each other globally, kinda like with Samsung and Apple. If one company wins suit in one country where they have favorable judges, that company will sue in another country where they don’t. and if they sue over the same things and judges from different countries disagree with one another, it could easily get messy. One company may have its assets ceased in one country only to have the other company retaliate by getting a judge in another country to cease its assets there.

Anonymous Coward says:

German Court Upholds Ban On Push Email In Apple’s iCloud, MobileMe

“A German regional court Friday backed an earlier court decision that banned Apple from offering push emails in Apple’s iCloud and MobileMe services in Germany, granting Motorola Mobility a victory in a global patent war among several technology companies. “

So this seems to be a global patent war. If one company asserts patents on another company in one country, that company may have patents asserted against it in another country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think you missed the awesome that is the ruling. The ruling is only valid if the German court agrees. If it does agree that sets a nudge nudge wink wink for all national rulings.

Just wait till a Chinese court decides that since it views certain things as illegal, EVERYONE MUST!!

Ah got to love the law of unintended consequences.

On the other hand Microsoft doesn’t just use their power for evil. In WA (where I live) they told the local government that they either needed to allow gay marriage or they were leaving the state. That was a nice change. They were not the only company doing it, but they are what most people think of for big companies in the NW.

I want to say Amazon/Google were in on it also, but I can not remember for sure, and I am to lazy to find a link.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So if the injunction is granted in full by the German court and the German court, not Motorola, enforce the injunction by putting it in immediate effect then a judge in Washington State can turn around and try to find Motorola liable for the German court enforcing the injunction?

Gonna make the Germans very happy, that is and make Microsoft even less popular among Eurocrats and politicians than it already is which, until I saw this, I just didn’t think was possible.

Of course the German court could then step in and fine Microsoft the equivalent amount that the court in Seattle fines Motorola and then we get into a nice little closed loop here.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m going to assume for the sake of my own sanity that the US Judge (and this circuit specifically) understands what comity is all about.

Then understands that IF the US Court punishes Motorola for doing something that is actually legal then the German court could punish Microsoft and also the USG itself.. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the German court sent it upwards to higher courts (lot higher) that made an example of Microsoft and the US Court system and allowed major damages against Microsoft for all of EU.

The USG cannot afford economically or treaty wise to destroy comity arrangements. Otehr3wise comity arrangements could be wiped across the board with US Courts on any and all civil matters.. NOT A GOOD OUTCOME!

Anonymous Coward says:

what is it with the US that it seems to think it has the right to do what it wants, ignore what it wants, even concerning decisions that are made over companies in other countries, just because it doesn’t like them? when it makes decisions in the US concerning companies, does it allow those decisions to be ignored in other countries? of course not and wo betide any country that tried to!

Doug says:

Summary misses the point

Mike has entirely missed the point on this one.

Motorola and Microsoft (both basically US companies) were already in a US court arguing this same issue (US patents) long before Germany got involved. Motorola didn’t like the way the US case was working out, so it tried to gain some leverage by opening a second case in Germany. The US court is telling Motorola that this is unacceptable — the US case has precedence, and taking a second shot at Microsoft in Germany before the case is determined in the US amounts to double jeopardy and an end-run around the US jurisdiction. The US court can’t control how the German court decides, but is telling Motorola that if it takes action against Microsoft (i.e. by taking advantage of a German court’s injunction) before the US court has come to a decision, that Motorola will be in contempt of court in the US.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Summary misses the point

Irrelevant, This is the same as if someone stole something in the USA got caught, bailed, and then the next day stole something in Canada that Canada could not prosecute becasue America has first call.

If Motorola can prove that Microsoft has committed a wrong in Germany (remember German laws are NOT US laws especially in regards to patents etc) than whether or not a US case based on similar though not the same (point in time and jurisdiction different) that is going on is absolutely irrelevant and totally wipes out all comity that has been built up between courts over centuries.

The only entity in contempt is the US Judge who allowed this and Microsoft’s counsel. That is contempt of sovereignty and legal reciprocity.

Doug says:

TechWorld article has more information

A slightly more informative summary of the situation can be found here:

The case went to trial in the US first. Motorola is venue shopping here, searching for a way to force Microsoft to settle (by getting an injunction in Germany) before it gets a judgement against it (in the US). I thought TechDirt was opposed to venue shopping. I guess venue shopping is ok if it is being done to sue Microsoft, right?

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: TechWorld article has more information

Obviously you’re misusing the term “venue shopping” for Motorola has the right to sue Microsoft in every country it thinks it’ll have legal standing. The US only has jurisdiction over US patent disputes, and Germany likewise. While the same technologies may be at the center of these disputes it is easily understood that the patents around these technologies will differ from country to country. Thus these issues need to be rectified in their individual jurisdictions by the presiding courts. So while the disputed technology may be the same the patents are not making these separate cases needing to be properly adjudicated. But nice attempt at conflating all this just so you can call some here hypocrites, eh…

Anonymous Coward says:


I really dont understand how this is supposed to work. We have a totally different patent law here in germany (no software patents etc.) and a patent filed in the USA has no legal bearing in the EU. If you want your ideas to be protected in the EU as well you have to file for a patent in every one of the countries in the EU which you can do through the european pantent office.

So this cannot be about the same conflict that is fought in the US because its totally different law and even a totally different patent (a german one instead of a US one)

How the f*** can a US Judge think they have any right to interfere?

PROUDLY non-american says:

Yet another act of war?

For a dying beast, the us cansure get uppity. I guess it’s because they have so many bombs, so little common sense and such a distorted sense of reality.

us juristication ends at the red-white and blue border. Exceed it and you are committing an act of war.

Of course, eternal war is the us business plan.

Proudly Non-american says:

Yet Another Act of War form the us?

For a dying beast, the us can sure get uppity. I guess it’s because they have so many bombs, so little common sense and such a distorted sense of reality.

us jurisdiction ends at the red-white and blue border.

Exceed it and you are committing an act of war.

Of course, eternal war is the us business plan.

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