Mar 7th, 2013

Some very interesting developments have taken place over at the German court halls. The patent dispute between Microsoft and Google/Motorola, the one that accuses the latter’s Google Maps platform of infringing on map-related patents owned by the former, seems to be heating up.

According to FOSS Patents, German courts are inclined to enforce an injunction on Google Maps in Germany, and this ban wouldn’t just affect the use of the service on mobile. Google would apparently need to unlist Google Maps in the Play Store (and possibly on other platforms) for German users, block German IP addresses from accessing Google Maps from any web browser, and if it wants to continue to distribute Chrome in Germany they must implement a filter that effectively blocks Google Maps.

Those are some pretty high stakes in a time where the likes of Microsoft, AOL and Nokia are gunning for Google’s head in the digital mapping scene. To sidestep such a huge issue Google would have to convince the courts to narrow the scope of the patent or convince the courts that no infringement is taking place, neither of which seem very likely at this point.

The only other (obvious) alternative if Google doesn’t want its maps service shutdown in those parts of the world is to pony up the same license fee that other OEMs have been paying to Microsoft for each Android device sold. Motorola obviously feels strongly against doing that considering it was them that initiated the lawsuit in Germany in the first place (though they probably felt like Microsoft was going to pull them into another battle anyway). The two will grind it out for a while yet, but it won’t be long before we get a stance from Google or Motorola (or the German courts) either way.

[thanks PhaseBurn!]

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