July 14, 2013
Microsoft Sues US Customs For Allowing Motorola Phones Into America
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Last May, the ITC ruled in favor of Microsoft in its lawsuit against Google over the search giant's use of a technology that keeps calendars in sync. As a part of this ruling, some Motorola Mobility devices that run Google's Android operating system were to be banned in the United States.
Now, according to BloombergBusinessweek, Microsoft is suing US Customs for not enforcing this ban and allowing Motorola Mobility phones into the States. According to its latest suit, Microsoft claims Google held secret meetings with US Customs and Border Protection to allow these devices across the border without doing anything to address the issues brought up in their October 2010 suit.
According to Reuters, all devices that run Android are affected by this ban, though Google claims only some Motorola Mobility phones should be blocked from entering the US. Former employees of the ITC and other experts are saying this case is proof the increasing amount of high-tech patent lawsuits and bans are now overwhelming US Customs and Border Protection, an agency that isn't yet accustomed to enforcing these kinds of bans on American shores.
Microsoft's original complaint against Google's Motorola claims the company illegally uses its Active Sync patents which involves creating meetings and scheduling on a mobile device. Motorola has licensed this patent in the past, between 2003 and 2007. When the license expired in 2007, Google's Motorola simply stopped paying for the license, sending Microsoft to pursue legal action.
To get around this ban, Motorola could have begun paying for these licenses again. These licensing discussions were the source of some contention between the two companies as Google reportedly offered to pay 33 cents for every device sold that used the calendaring technology. They also tried to reach a compromise with Microsoft and offered to lower its royalties of each Windows Phone device that uses its H.264 codec. Though it was willing to lower the royalties of the video codec, Google stuck by its demands to earn 2.25 percent of every Xbox 360 sold which also uses the H.264 codec, an offer which led Microsoft to allegedly respond "are you serious?"
In its suit against US Customs, Microsoft claims the order was never enforced and that Google took advantage of its inability to handle these requests to allow its phones to continue shipping through America's ports.
"CBP (Customs and Bureau Protection) has repeatedly allowed Motorola to evade that order based on secret presentations that CBP has refused to share with Microsoft," reads the Microsoft complaint, according to Reuters.
Google rebutted these accusations, saying: "US Customs appropriately rejected Microsoft's effort to broaden its patent claims to block Americans from using a wide range of legitimate calendar functions, like scheduling meetings, on their mobile phones."
Meanwhile, Deanna Tanner Okun, a former ITC chairman, told Reuters this suit is simply a sign the patent system has flown out of control and because of this, US Customs are left without the expertise to handle these disputes.
"Problems have increased. The system is outdated," she said. "They're using practices and procedures that are 20 years old."