Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-28-2012
  • Case #: 12-35352
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judges Wallace and Thomas
  • Full Text Opinion

A federal district court has the power to enjoin the parties from proceeding with an action in the courts of a foreign country, and evaluating the propriety of the foreign anti-suit injunction involves a three-part inquiry.

Microsoft sued Motorola for breach of contract in a Washington district court. The next day, Motorola filed a patent suit against Microsoft in a Wisconsin district court. During the domestic litigation, Motorola commenced a patent infringement suit in Germany. With claims still pending in Germany, the district court granted Microsoft’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enjoin Motorola from enforcing any German injunctive relief it might obtain. After the German court issued its ruling, the district court converted the temporary restraining order into the preliminary injunction, which is the issue in this interlocutory appeal. After a three-part assessment, the Court determined that the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining Motorola from proceeding with patent-infringement actions in the German court. First, it was clear that there was an enforceable contract, which encompassed not just U.S. patents but also the patents at issue in the German suit. The district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that if it decided in favor of Microsoft, Microsoft’s contract-based claims would determine the propriety of enforcing the injunctive relief obtained in Germany. Second, the Court determined that while the district court’s interpretations of Motorola’s litigation decisions were not the only possible interpretations, they were not “illogical, implausible, or without support from inferences drawn from facts.” Last, the district court’s injunction did not create an intolerable impact on international comity. The case is a private dispute between two U.S. corporations under state contract law, which does not raise any “public international issue.” Motorola only initiated the German litigation after Microsoft filed suit in the U.S. Ultimately, the Court determined that under the unique circumstances of the case, the district court’s narrowly tailored preliminary injunction was not an abuse of discretion. AFFIRMED.

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