ITC judge recommends banning Xbox imports

Judge for trade commission, which has the power to block imports, recommends blocking imports of the Xbox 360 S console due to infringement on four Motorola patents.

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Microsoft's Xbox video game consoles should be banned from import into the U.S. because they infringe on four Motorola patents, a judge for the International Trade Commission has recommended.

In a court document made public Monday (see below), ITC Judge David Shaw recommended that sales of the 4GB and 250GB versions of the Xbox 360 S console be blocked and that Microsoft post a bond of equal to 7 percent of the wholesale value of the unsold consoles already in the country.

"It is recommended that the Commission enter a limited exclusion order against infringing Microsoft products," Shaw wrote in his finding. "It is further recommended that the Commission issue a cease and desist order. Additionally, it is recommended that Microsoft be required to post a bond for importation of accused products during the Presidential review period."

The recommendation follows Shaw's ruling last month that Microsoft was infringing on some of Motorola's patent rights. The entire six-member trade commission, which has the power to block imports found to infringe on U.S. patents, is expected to review the decision and issue a statement in August.

CNET contacted Microsoft for comment on the recommendation and will update this report when we learn more. In response to Shaw's earlier ruling, Microsoft told CNET that it "remain[ed] confident the commission will ultimately rule in Microsoft's favor in this case and that Motorola will be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms."

The ruling is the latest episode in a patent battle between the two companies stretching back to November 2010 when Microsoft sued Motorola over wireless and video coding patents it used in the Xbox and its smartphones. Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for licensing on those patents. Motorola retaliated with its own countersuit, claiming infringement of 16 of its patents by Microsoft's PC and server software, Windows Mobile and Xbox products.

Earlier this month, Motorola won an injunction in Germany that would allow Motorola to ban the distribution of Microsoft's products, as well as recall and destroy Windows 7 and Xbox 360 units that are currently on German store shelves. However, Motorola faces significant hurdles if it wants to enforce the bans.

The recommendation was made public the day before Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility was made official, opening a new battle front between the two tech titans. Google, which plans to run Motorola as a separate company, has said it was interested in the troubled cell phone maker mainly for its strong patent portfolio -- an increasingly frequent tool being employed by tech companies to repress the products of competitors.

View ITC Xbox ruling on Scribd