A US appeals court appeared skeptical towards Google’s bid to charge Microsoft a high royalty rate to use some of the internet search provider’s Motorola Mobility patents.Microsoft sued Motorola in 2010, alleging Motorola breached its commitment to license some of its industry standard patents on fair terms. After a 2012 trial, a Seattle federal judge found that the appropriate rate for Motorola to license certain wireless and video technology used in the Xbox game console was only a fraction of what motorola asked for.
Google sold the Motorola handset business to Lenovo last year, but kept its patents.
The value of Google’s patents can affect how it negotiates royalty rates with other tech companies, and firms including Apple and Intel filed court papers supporting Microsoft.
After the 2012 trial before US district judge James Robart, the judge said the appropriate royalty rate was about $1.8 million, slightly above Microsoft’s estimate, but well below Motorola’s demand for as much as $4 billion a year.
Google asked the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to rule that the patent rate should have been determined by a jury, not the judge. However, all three members of the 9th Circuit panel suggested that Google’s attorneys had not sought a jury trial on that issue at the time.. –
“It seems pretty clear…that both parties anticipated a bench trial,” chief judge Sidney Thomas said.
After Robart set the patent rate, a jury in 2013 awarded Microsoft about $14.5 million in damages for breach of contract in a subsequent trial. Google has asked that the 9th Circuit reverse that award as well.
The 9th Circuit is expected to rule sometime in the coming months.