Experts Streamlined in Microsoft-Motorola Case
(CN) - A federal judge in Seattle approved and denied a raft of expert witnesses in a contentious battle between Microsoft and Motorola over the licensing of wireless technology.
Google-owned Motorola and Microsoft sued each other over royalties for Motorola's wireless patents, which Microsoft used in its Xbox 360 gaming platform. Microsoft claimed Motorola demanded exorbitant licensing fees in breach of industrywide agreements, while Motorola cried patent infringement against Microsoft over the disputed technology.
Agreements with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) require both companies to license high-demand, essential technology on a reasonable and nondiscriminatory (RAND) basis. Microsoft argued that Motorola's proposed royalty of $2.25 per unit for use of its patents was unreasonable and amounted to a breach of the RAND agreement.
The three-year worldwide battle has grown increasingly bitter, with U.S. District Judge James Robart at one point chiding both sides for being "arrogant" and profit-driven throughout the proceedings. And Robart's latest order - issued Monday for the purpose of allowing and excluding expert testimony on both sides - expressed the court's disapproval of the game-playing.
"At the outset, the court takes the rare opportunity to note that this order may not be as helpful as it could be because after expert discovery the parties continued to modify the expert reports and proffered expert testimony that was the subject of their motions," Robart wrote. "Matters were complicated further at oral argument when both parties represented that they would further modify certain expert reports based on arguments raised in the motions. The court has found it difficult to gain solid footing on the ever-shifting sands of information contained in the parties' expert reports. Ruling in this context has been a challenge because the court has been forced to examine newly submitted testimony without the benefit of argument or briefing. At this point, the court must rule in order for the trial to move forward; there is no time to order supplemental briefing or argument. In light of this reality, the court can only express its disapproval of the parties' conduct and warn that similar conduct by either party in the future will not be well received."
Earlier this year, the judge settled the dispute over royalties in a 206-page opinion that rejected Motorola's initial $4 billion demand for a figure less than half that. ZDNet estimated that Microsoft owes Motorola about $1.8 million a year under Robart's plan.
The two tech giants face off in the second phase of the trial - over Microsoft's claims that Motorola breached its RAND contract with the $4 billion demand - on Aug. 26. The second phase will be a jury trial, per Motorola's request.