Microsoft wins import ban on some Motorola phones

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that the handset maker infringed on a Microsoft patent and blocked the import of relevant Moto phones.

The U.S. International Trade Commission handed Microsoft a victory in one of its patent disputes with Motorola, banning the import of some Motorola phones.

The agency found that Motorola violated a Microsoft patent for that software that creates meeting requests and schedules them on mobile devices. Motorola will likely need to alter the software in the phones before they come into the United States.

The ruling is now subject to a 60-day presidential review. Motorola has to post a bond of 33 cents for each phone that has entered the United States.

"Microsoft started its ITC investigation asserting nine patents against Motorola Mobility," Motorola said in a statement. "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.... We will explore all options including appeal."

The dispute revolves around Motorola's use of the scheduling technology in some of its devices, including Droid phones and Xoom tablets, that run Google's mobile Android operating system. Microsoft argued that the software infringed on its ActiveSync technology.

An administrative law judge ruled in December that Motorola infringed on one of the nine patents that Microsoft had cited. Today's decision, from the full commission largely upholds that ruling.

"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 US by taking a license to our patents," Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel David Howard said in a statement.

Technology companies in recent years have increasingly turned to the ITC to settle their disputes. Companies can pursue an ITC case in parallel with civil lawsuits, and the threat of an embargo on products typically forces companies to settle more quickly.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. PT with more details and analysis.

Staff writer Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.

 

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