Motorola removes all Android devices from sale in Germany

“The Patent Wars.” Someone should claim that as a working title and then sue anyone else that uses it without permission. It would be in keeping with the infighting between Apple, Google, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung right now.

Leading on from high profile court cases, Google’s Motorola Mobility has removed all its Android devices from sale in Germany as the tech giant are unable to overturn patent infringement judgements won by Apple and Microsoft.

The Motorola website in Germany shows just one budget handset, the Gleam, which runs Motorola’s own OS, not Android.  No tablets are listed and the new Razr I and HD phones haven’t yet been released.

Motorola released a statement to AllThingsD in which they said:

As we have previously stated Motorola Mobility is focusing on fewer mobile devices. As a result we have phased out some of our lower tier devices in Europe/Germany.

But is the Gleam not the type of device they would be phasing out? Motorola are actively looking to update their devices before releasing them to the German wild again. On the company’s website, the Xoom 2 tablet simply has a statement reading "devices not available in Germany - updated devices [will be] available at the end of July". July has come and gone, and with the holiday season approaching, Motorola will need to work fast to be able to make any impact in the lucrative Android market that Germany has.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert has said:

Let there be no doubt: in the age of over-the-air updates and Internet downloads, companies continue to sell their devices if all they plan to do is a routine update. If a company identified a huge security issue in its operating software, it would fix that one quickly (a matter of days or weeks) and then resume its sales. But Motorola Mobility's website shows that the company announced months ago that it would again offer the devices it pulled at the moment, and it still hasn't been able to do so. Much to the contrary, it appears to have pulled even more gadgets from its German catalogue.

Even Google has hinted that they purchased Motorola Mobility to take ownership of up to 24,500 patents (with 7,500 of them still patent pending) in the wireless sector, in the hope that they would be able to defend themselves from legal proceedings from Apple and Microsoft. But it appears that Google are struggling to keep up with the increasing number of Android-related patent infringements identified in the US, Europe and Asia. Mueller went on to add:

I'm sure that Motorola Mobility wouldn't be doing what it's doing if it was an independent company. In that case, its course of action would certainly be criticised by shareholders. But today Motorola Mobility has only one shareholder, Google. And Google apparently prefers to limit choice for German consumers over a settlement on commercially reasonable terms that most of the industry has already validated. I doubt that this is the best choice for the Android ecosystem, for German consumers, for Google, and for Motorola Mobility.

With Motorola going through its own period of transition and restructuring, up to 4,000 job cuts are expected to cost approximately $300 million in redundancy packages. Another $90 million will be spent closing offices outside the US.

Source: International Business Times | Image courtesy of thefonecast.com

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30 Comments

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Any article that quotes Florian Mueller automatically gets discounted in my view. Why quote an Apple shill for an article about Motorola/Android?

Majesticmerc said,
*sigh*

If you can't innovate, litigate.

Or if you cant innovate, use everyone else's stuff without any form of licensing and then give it away for free thereby setting them all up for patent lawsuits - nice one google

yardmanflex said,

you sound like a fanboy...because you clearly missing the point....

Not at all. If the roles were reversed I'd be equally negative about the situation. The whole system is a running joke. X sues Y for patent infringement, Y sues X in retaliation. Its basically turned into all out MAD. Sue the **** out of everyone and see who's left at the end.

It's reached a point now where companies are simply suing each other to force their competition out of the market. Look at Apple and Samsung, it's turning into a worldwide points system. X wins if X is allowed to sell their product in more countries than Y. It's ridiculous.

Majesticmerc said,

Not at all. If the roles were reversed I'd be equally negative about the situation. The whole system is a running joke. X sues Y for patent infringement, Y sues X in retaliation. Its basically turned into all out MAD. Sue the **** out of everyone and see who's left at the end.

It's reached a point now where companies are simply suing each other to force their competition out of the market. Look at Apple and Samsung, it's turning into a worldwide points system. X wins if X is allowed to sell their product in more countries than Y. It's ridiculous.

I am positive, if it was your Tech Google/Moto was using without paying you would want compensation...and it they don't want to pay you would sue.
From my understanding MS wants to settle put Google/Moto..does not..

ok I'm saying this now not as a fanboy of either side (I actually prefer WP but like android as well).

The fact of the matter here is simple, Google did not license quite a lot of the stuff in Android - its a simple matter simply put.

duddit2 said,
ok I'm saying this now not as a fanboy of either side (I actually prefer WP but like android as well).

The fact of the matter here is simple, Google did not license quite a lot of the stuff in Android - its a simple matter simply put.

If Google had forgotten to license stuff, do you not think that Microsoft would have gone after Google, instead of just making secret deals with the manufacturers?

duddit2 said,
ok I'm saying this now not as a fanboy of either side (I actually prefer WP but like android as well).

The fact of the matter here is simple, Google did not license quite a lot of the stuff in Android - its a simple matter simply put.

The vast majority of the patent suits so far have been against products that use custom UI's

Majesticmerc said,

If Google had forgotten to license stuff, do you not think that Microsoft would have gone after Google, instead of just making secret deals with the manufacturers?


No because Google gives away Android for free. Charging companies or people on IP misuse is very, very hard if the party you're trying sue has no direct economical benefit from it.

Javik said,

The vast majority of the patent suits so far have been against products that use custom UI's


Oh? Strange considering MS was one of the first developing a smartphone OS and acquired a whole arsenal of patents concerning smartphones.
Samsung, HTC, Acer, Viewsonic, Onkyo, General Dynamics, Velocity Micro, Wistron, Quanta Computer, Compal, Motorola, Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, Huawei and Inventic. I might've missed a few. But afaik only Samsung and HTC have entire custom shells. Then again I havent used many other android and don't really care.
And it's already been made public that several cases/deals are about ActiveSync.

Javik said,

The vast majority of the patent suits so far have been against products that use custom UI's

But still use the guts of android, where the patent issues lie (ignoring the Apple/Samsung case which had a lot to do with appearance). Things like Active sync were never licensed hence why MS gets some money from each manufacturer per handset sold - they don't go after Google as Google make nothing directly from android, they go after the folks that are getting the 'free lunch' using MS patented tech (active sync is just one of the many things not licensed).

MS and Apple have a licensing agreement between themselves, so you never ever see patent disputes between the two, and both consider android as the enemy due to it being 'free' but using patented tech that was never licensed - I did say in my initial post that I was putting it simply, and it still is but your post made me flesh it out a little more.

Now any more debating on this will simply show your fanboy colours, this is how it is and you only have to read properly about the situation to understand it.

Majesticmerc said,

If Google had forgotten to license stuff, do you not think that Microsoft would have gone after Google, instead of just making secret deals with the manufacturers?

No, and its quite obvious why not - they GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE! why is this a question, seriously dumb.

Javik said,

The vast majority of the patent suits so far have been against products that use custom UI's

With Apple, yes... With Microsoft, No...

Android's Dalvik JVM along with the Linux kernel steps on Microsoft patents.

The Microsoft patent suitcase that is shown to MFRs producing phones using Android like Samsung and HTC have been very persuasive, let alone major Linux distributions like Red Hat that also pay licensing fees to Microsoft.

With Android and Google, there is not a product (something sold), which is why Microsoft has not went after Google directly.

Since Google's income from Android is in a few sub-licensing deals with the majority of their income from obtaining information and expanding their advertising and information brokering.

It would serve no purpose for Microsoft to 'halt' Google from distributing Android, when they can create a revenue stream from licensing patents from the phone/tablet MFRs.

duddit2 said,
No, and its quite obvious why not - they GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE! why is this a question, seriously dumb.

You missed my point. If Microsoft really cared about protecting their inventions, they'd go after Google directly, rather than the handset manufacturers. Microsoft could sue Google for patent infringement, Google (if they are in fact guilty) pays a substantial fine, and removes the infringing components or licenses them for a reasonable fee. Problem solved.

To answer my own question:
The problem with the scenario above however is that there's more profit to be made from suing/licensing to each individual manufacturer rather than licensing to the source. The handset manufacturers (like you are hinting) are easier targets since they produce more direct profits from Android than Google do (but don't fool yourself, Google make plenty of money from Android).

It's also easier from a litigious point of view to present a jury with a shiny phone and demonstrate overall similarities, rather than actually get into the meat of the patent and risk losing the case on a technical point in the patent (which is what SHOULD happen; getting into the technical points I mean, not losing).

thenetavenger said,

Android's Dalvik JVM along with the Linux kernel steps on Microsoft patents.

Nah. Given how badly Oracle embarrassed themselves in their Dalvik case, Microsoft wouldn't stand a chance.

I think they will rethink their MS bashing strategy... Even samsung is paying. Yes Motorola. Keep trying to get a lawsuit thru MS patent porfolio, maybe you will be able to reach an agreement.

Could they sell the phones blank?
Then the end users could install whatever OS they like (most likely android) to get around the sales ban?
The issue seems to me to be the sales of handsets with Android pre-installed. The issue being Android not the handset?

Tbh I would love to see a blank phone being released that you could install your own phone OS on to, a bit like the HD2 and its multitude of custom roms of different OS flavors but more mainstream and with better vendor support.
Or a truly vendor supported phone for custom modders? A GP2X Phone if you will (although with more support)

Teebor said,
Could they sell the phones blank?
Then the end users could install whatever OS they like (most likely android) to get around the sales ban?
The issue seems to me to be the sales of handsets with Android pre-installed. The issue being Android not the handset?

Tbh I would love to see a blank phone being released that you could install your own phone OS on to, a bit like the HD2 and its multitude of custom roms of different OS flavors but more mainstream and with better vendor support.
Or a truly vendor supported phone for custom modders? A GP2X Phone if you will (although with more support)

Sure they could do that..

But the 7 people that would be willing to do that, probably can already get around the ban themselves.

nickcruz said,

scraps

Oh, I didn't know. I'm not a patent expert. Google admitted they bought them for patents. I didn't know what kind of patents they were. But it seems we have a resident patent expert here. Thanks for correcting me.