Microsoft is relocating its software distribution centre from Germany to the Netherlands, amid fears that patent disputes with mobile giant Motorola could cripple its European business.
The two companies are locked in a dispute over various software-related patents, with a decision on one pertaining to video-compression software expected to be reached by a German court imminently.
“We would have preferred to keep our European distribution centre with Arvato in Germany as it has been for many years, but unfortunately the risk of disruption from Motorola’s patent litigation is simply too high,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
German courts have recently shown they are willing to enforce sales bans when adjudicating in patent disputes. Apple famously won a case which resulted in Samsung's original Galaxy Tab being banned in Germany.
Microsoft has clearly decided that the risk of disruption to its entire European software distribution operation is too high.
The decision comes as the European Commission (EC) has confirmed that it has started two anti-trust investigations into Motorola over possible abuse of its patent holdings.
Microsoft was one of the companies to file a complaint against Motorola accusing it of abusing industry standard patents by seeking unjustifiably high terms to licence parts of the H.264 video technology.
According to Microsoft, Motorola wanted a royalty payment of $22.50 for the 50 video patents that would be found in a $1,000 laptop.
“There are at least 2,300 other patents needed to implement this standard,” Microsoft's deputy general council, Dave Heiner, said at the time.
Microsoft claimed it pays just $0.02 to license those other patents on a $1,000 laptop.
Motorola, meanwhile, has repeatedly insisted it wants to reach licence agreements with all firms to use industry standard patents.
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