Patent judge finds Motorola infringed on a Microsoft patent

Initial ruling says Motorola infringed on one, but not six other, Microsoft patents.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read
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An administrative law judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled today that Motorola violated only one of seven Microsoft patents.

The initial ruling today, only a partial win for Microsoft, said only that Motorola has infringed on a patent related to using a mobile device to schedule meetings.

Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex issued an initial determination that certain Motorola devices infringed on four claims of U.S. Patent 6,370,566 held by Microsoft. The patent covers technology used to schedule an appointment on a mobile device, invite others to attend a meeting using contact information and e-mail addresses and synchronizing calendars across the phone, PC and other devices.

The ruling is preliminary and needs approval by the full six-member Commission. A final decision is expected by April 20, 2012 and then the decision will be subject to a 60-day review period by the Obama administration, according to Motorola.

Microsoft praised the decision. "We are pleased with the ITC's initial determination finding Motorola violated four claims of a Microsoft patent," David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said in a statement. "As Samsung, HTC, Acer and other companies have recognized, respecting others' intellectual property through licensing is the right path forward."

Motorola said it too was pleased with the outcome.

"We are very pleased that the majority of the rulings were favorable to Motorola Mobility," Scott Offer, senior vice president and general counsel of Motorola Mobility, said in a statement. "The ALJ's initial determination may provide clarity on the definition of the Microsoft 566 patent for which a violation was found and will help us avoid infringement of this patent in the U.S. market."

Meanwhile, Motorola said Microsoft continues to infringe on its patents, for which Motorola has sued and complained with the ITC. "Motorola Mobility remains confident in its position and will continue to move forward with its complaints," the company said. (For background on the cases read "Microsoft-Motorola patent spat heats up."

Mobile is a hot area for patent actions. For instance, Apple is waging patent battles with Motorola, Samsung and HTC. Just yesterday, Apple won an ITC ruling against HTC that could result in a ban on HTC smartphones if the company can't find a work-around to the single Apple patent the ITC says HTC violates. Apple also is alleging in an Australian court that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on at least 10 of its patents related to case design.

Updated 3:35 p.m. PT with Motorola statement and background on other cases.