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Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola

795 F.3d 1024 (2015)

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Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

795 F.3d 1024 (2015)

Facts

Motorola, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, Motorola) (defendants) owned two patent portfolios that were subject to reasonable and nondiscriminatory (RAND) agreements. Under a RAND agreement, a patent holder could not refuse a license to a manufacturer who committed to pay the RAND rate. Motorola sent Microsoft Corporation (plaintiff) two letters offering to license the portfolios at a particular price. Microsoft, a third-party beneficiary of the RAND agreements, filed a breach-of-contract action alleging that the letters breached Motorola’s RAND obligations. Motorola filed a separate patent-infringement suit against Microsoft that was consolidated with the breach-of-contract action. Motorola also filed patent-infringement suits against Microsoft with the International Trade Commission and a German court, seeking injunctions against sales of Microsoft’s allegedly infringing products. Microsoft amended its complaint to assert that Motorola’s filing of injunctive actions constituted a continuing breach of Motorola’s obligations under the RAND agreements, and the district court stayed all the patent-infringement claims in the consolidated cases pending resolution of the RAND issues. Before proceeding to a jury trial, the district court conducted a bench trial to determine a RAND rate for the patents at issue. To calculate the RAND rate, the court set up a hypothetical negotiation between the parties to approximate the royalty rates to which they would have agreed, considering multiple factors, including the present-day value of the Motorola patents to Microsoft. The jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of Microsoft. Motorola appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court’s RAND-rate analysis was flawed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Berzon, J.)

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