ITC: Motorola Smartphones Violate Microsoft Scheduling Patent

Microsoft vs Motorola ITC Ban

In the latest development in the ongoing global mobile device patent war, some Motorola Mobility (“Motorola”) smartphones have been found by the U.S. International Trade Commission to infringe upon a Microsoft patent and will be barred from importation to the United States, Reuters reported late Friday. The patent at issue involves the ability to generate and schedule meeting requests directly on mobile devices. 

Microsoft’s initial success against Motorola comes just days after Apple achieved a temporary import ban on some HTC smartphones resulting from Apple’s victory in patent litigation last December. HTC’s phones eventually cleared customs although both companies are now heading to court-ordered settlement negotiations.

Friday’s ITC ruling did not specify which Motorola devices were affected by the ban, although Microsoft’s complaint specified 18 products, including the Droid X and Xoom tablet.

Motorola, which is in the process of being acquired by Google, now faces two options: remove the scheduling feature from its device software or come to licensing terms for the technology with Microsoft.

Regardless of its choice, the company stressed that the ITC’s ruling would not result in a near-term financial impact on the company. “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,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We will explore all options including appeal.” 

A Microsoft spokeswoman told Reuters that the company was pleased with the decision: “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.”

Both companies are free to appeal the decision and President Obama, per ITC rules, has 60 days to consider overturning the Commission’s ruling for policy reasons.