ITC Rules Motorola Infringed Upon Microsoft Patents
May 20, 2012

ITC Rules Motorola Infringed Upon Microsoft Patents

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that some Motorola Mobility smartphones infringe upon patents owned by Microsoft, and as such those products will be prohibited from entering the country, various media outlets reported on Friday.

According to Diane Bartz of Reuters, Microsoft first filed the complaint with the ITC in October 2010, accusing the Illinois-based telecommunications company of infringing upon nine patents for Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Two of those patents were dropped, and the commission ruled last December that Motorola did not infringe upon six others.  On Friday, an ITC judge ruled that Motorola did in fact infringe upon the remaining patent, which Bloomberg's Susan Decker and William McQuillen said covers a program known as ActiveSync, which allows users to generate meeting requests amongst a group.

In its "final determination of violation," the ITC ruled that "the appropriate form of relief in this investigation is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry for consumption of mobile devices, associated software and components thereof covered by claims 1, 2, 5, or 6 of the United States Patent No. 6,370,566 and that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, Motorola," Jon Brodkin of ArsTechnica said.

The order will now be sent to President Barack Obama, who has 60 days to override the order on public policy grounds, Reuters and Bloomberg added. If it stands, Motorola will either have to remove the infringing technology from their devices or come to a licensing agreement with the Redmond, Washington-based company. Otherwise, they will not be able to import or sell the offending smartphones in the US, PCMag's Chloe Albanesius wrote on Friday.

Decker and McQuillen said that the ITC filing reveals that the Droid 2, Droid X, i1, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip, Charm and Clip models could be affected by an exclusion order, and Matt Macarion of The Verge also noted that it could theoretically also have an impact on the Razr, Atrix, and Xoom tablet.

"Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse Microsoft's efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year," David Howard, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a statement, according to Albanesius. "We're pleased the full Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft's intellectual property, and we hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the U.S. by taking a license to our patents."

"Although we are disappointed by the Commission´s ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning," Motorola countered, according to Brodkin. "Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term, as the Commission's ruling is subject to a $0.33/per unit bond during the 60 day Presidential review period. We will explore all options including appeal."