German court invalidates Microsoft patent used for Motorola phone sales ban

Microsoft can appeal the ruling that invalidated its FAT storage patent

A Microsoft storage patent that was used to get a sales ban on products from Google-owned Motorola Mobility in Germany has been invalidated by the German Federal Patent Court.

Microsoft's FAT (File Allocation Table) patent, which concerns a "common name space for long and short filenames" was invalidated on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Federal Patent Court said in an email Friday. She could not give the exact reasons for the court's decision before the written judicial decision is released, which will take a few weeks.

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The File Allocation Table is a file system that traditionally only supports short file names in a rigid format, which makes it hard to give media files understandable and searchable names. Because that can be frustrating, Microsoft wanted to provide a system that supports a common name space for both long and short file names, so people can easily label and find their files, according to the patent in question.

In July 2012, the Regional Court of Mannheim granted Microsoft an injunction against several Motorola phones based on the same patent. However, before the injunction could be enforced, Microsoft needed to take certain steps such as posting a bond, in case the injunction was overturned on appeal. While Microsoft said at the time it wanted the injunction to be enforced, it is unclear whether this actually happened.

The ban was for phones including the Motorla Droid Razr, the Droid Razr Maxx and the Motorola Atrix.

Microsoft did not immediately comment on the matter. Motorola Mobility, which brought the patent validity case to the Federal Patent Court, did not reply to a request for comment.

The dispute about this patent could continue.

"The case can be appealed by Microsoft within a month after the formal notification of the judgement" with the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, the court's spokeswoman said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com.

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