Microsoft to pay peanuts in patent ruling

A Seattle judge has ruled in favour of Microsoft in one of two patent trials putting Redmond up against Google and its Motorola Mobility unit, leaving it with a substantially smaller royalties bill to pay.

Motorola wanted Microsoft to cough up cash on patents relating to the Xbox console – as much as $4 billion each year. But district judge James Robart said a more appropriate payment would be $1.8 million, practically nothing considering and much closer to Microsoft’s calculation of $1 million a year – or 0.045 percent of Motorola’s original claim. The patents are related to wireless and video technology.

Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, David Howard, said in a statement that the decision is “good for consumers” because it “ensures patented technology committed to standards remains affordable for everyone”.

Later this year, a separate patent case between the two will go to courts – and declare whether or not Motorola failed to licence standard and essential patents to Microsoft on fair terms, Reuters reports. 

Earlier this year, Microsoft also saw off Google in a dispute over the H.264 codec.

Google was believed to have picked up Motorola Mobility in a multi-billion deal largely to bolster its patent portfolio. It, Microsoft, Apple and others have been involved in patent battling since the emergence of the smartphone boom – the winners so far largely being the lawyers and the odd bit of publicity.