Microsoft and Google financials could surface at trial

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:56pm IST

The interior of a Microsoft retail store is seen in San Diego January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

The interior of a Microsoft retail store is seen in San Diego January 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

REUTERS - Microsoft and Google's Motorola Mobility unit squared off on Tuesday at a trial with strategic implications for the smartphone patent wars and which could reveal financial information the two companies usually keep under wraps.

The proceeding in a Seattle federal court will determine how much of a royalty Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) should pay Google Inc (GOOG.O) for a license to some of Motorola's patents. Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion, partly for its library of communications patents.

If U.S. District Judge James Robart decides Google deserves only a small royalty, then its Motorola patents would be a weaker bargaining chip for Google to negotiate licensing deals with rivals.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft have been litigating in courts around the world against Google and partners like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), which use the Android operating system on their mobile devices.

Apple contends that Android is basically a copy of its iOS smartphone software, and Microsoft holds patents that it contends cover a number of Android features.

Motorola had sought up to $4 billion a year for its wireless and video patents, while Microsoft argues its rival deserves just over $1 million a year. A federal judge in Wisconsin last week threw out a similar case brought by Apple against Google just before trial.

In court on Tuesday Microsoft called Jon DeVaan, a veteran software manager in the Windows division, as its first witness. He said Motorola's wireless and video patents at issue covered only a small part of the overall Windows architecture.

During the run-up to trial in Seattle, both Microsoft and Google asked Robart to keep secret a range of financial details about the two companies, including licensing deals and sales revenue projections. Google requested that Robart clear the courtroom when witnesses discuss those details.

However, in an order on Monday, Robart rejected that request. The public will not be able to view the documents describing patent deals or company sales during trial, Robart ruled, but testimony will be in open court.

"If a witness discloses pertinent terms, rates or payments, such information will necessarily be made public," the judge wrote.

Additionally, any documents the judge relies on for his final opinion will be disclosed, Robart wrote on Monday.

Before trial began on Tuesday, Robart said in court that he wanted to take the most "expansive" interpretation of the public's right to know. Several outside companies besides Microsoft and Motorola, like Research in Motion Inc RIM.TO, have also asked him to keep secret their royalty deals.

Robart said he would consider a request to refer to those third party companies by code names, known only to the lawyers and the judge.

The case in U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington is Microsoft Corp. vs. Motorola Inc., 10-cv-1823.

(Reporting By Bill Rigby in Seattle and Dan Levine in San Francisco; editing by Jim Marshall and Carol Bishopric)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Tech Showcase

Antitrust Measure

Antitrust Measure

European Parliament may propose Google break-up in draft resolution.  Full Article 

Regulating Apps

Regulating Apps

Singapore to regulate taxi-booking apps Uber, GrabTaxi.  Full Article 

Aereo Bankrupt

Aereo Bankrupt

Aereo files for bankruptcy  Full Article 

Cyber Spying

Cyber Spying

U.S. accuses China of cyber spying on American companies  Full Article 

Tech Workers

Tech Workers

Obama's immigration tweaks leave Big Tech wanting more.  Full Article 

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

FCC chief says U.S. Internet rules must stand up to lawsuits  Full Article 

New Amazon Service

New Amazon Service

Amazon plans ad-supported video streaming service - NY post  Full Article 

Travel Technology

Travel Technology

Airlines eye tech partners to tap customer data  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage