Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

Summary: Microsoft's patent infringement case, filed with the U.S. ITC against Motorola Mobility, kicks off next week. Here's what you need to know about what's at stake.

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Google may have announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility, but that purchase (if approved by regulators) won't be official for months -- or maybe even a year-plus. In the interim, as Google officials said this week, Motorola will be going it alone against Microsoft in the various patent suits in which the two already are engaged.

The first of those suits begins winding its way through the courts as of next week, the week of August 22. This one involves the complaint lodged by Microsoft with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last fall over Motorola's alleged infringement of nine Microsoft wireless patents.

The ITC pre-conference hearing is slated for today, August 19, and the trial is slated to run from August 22 to August 31.

If you want a refresher on what's at stake, FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller is one of the go-to guys in this space.

"At the ITC, each case is a one-way street, unlike federal lawsuits, where you often have counterclaims, in other words, patents being asserted by both sides," explained Mueller, who has been keeping close tabs on the various, interrelated patent cases in the mobile market.

"The ITC staff makes a recommendation that isn't binding on the judge, but it's always awaited with great interest," Mueller added.

According to the proposed schedule in the case, initial determination in the case is set for November 2011. The final judgement target date is March 2012. Only the final judgement is enforceable.

Mueller has been tracking every twist and turn in the Microsoft Motorola patent battle, which kicked off in October 2010, when Microsoft filed two patent-infringement complaints against Motorola (one in the Western District of Washington and the other with the ITC). Both related to the same nine patents:

  • 5,579,517 ("517") Common name space for long and short file names
  • 5,758,352 ("352") Common name space for long and short file names
  • 6,621,746 ("746") Monitoring entropic conditions of a flash memory device as an indicator for invoking erasure operations
  • 6,826,762 ("762") Radio interface layer in a cell phone with a set of APIs having a hardware-independent proxy layer and a hardware-specific driver layer
  • 6,909,910 ("910") Method and system for managing changes to a contact database
  • 7,644,376 ("376") Flexible architecture for notifying applications of state changes
  • 5,664,133 ("133") Context sensitive menu system/menu behavior
  • 6,578,054 ("054") Method and system for supporting off-line mode of operation and synchronization using resource state information
  • 6,370,566 ("566") Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device

In November, Microsoft filed a second complaint against Motorola involving wireless and video-codec patents in the Western District of Washington, alleging Motorola's failure to comply with RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing commitments Motorola made to certain standard-setting organizations (IEEE-SA and ITU) and their members.

Motorola shot back with three complaints against Microsoft in two different federal courts. And Microsoft, in late December, made counterclaims in southern Florida, asserting seven patents, Mueller said. The complaints were modified, court venues shifted, patents dropped and counterclaims filed in the ensuing months. This week, on August 17, the Southern Florida lawsuit between the pair was transferred to Washington.

In Mueller's opinion, "this venue transfer decision gives Microsoft not only the home court advantage but, far more importantly, thwarts Motorola's plan to have at least one federal decision that might work out in its favor before the ITC takes its final decision on Microsoft's ITC complaint."

To me, all of this makes it clearer why Motorola allegedly was talking to Microsoft about a potential patent purchase --and why Google was so interested in keeping those patents out of Microsoft's hands....

Topics: Microsoft, Legal, Mobility

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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30 comments
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  • Question to whom may know the answer...

    I have been wondering, but no clue as how Motorola can be used to protect anyone when it has been deeply in the same trouble? If Moto's IP is powerful enough, shouldn't there be some kinds of cross licensing deal to end its own the legal problems?
    jk_10
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @jk_10
      +1, otherwise Apple and Microsoft wouldn't have filed suits against them. This means Moto's IPs are bleak after all or at least the MMI holding IP.
      Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

        @Rama.NET
        +1. Yup, Motorola's patent portfolio is not even on the value charts and can do not one any good, which makes Google's $12.5billion a huge waste because its not about quantity. Here are details of top patent portfolios, guess who is at the top, Microsoft, of course, and people want to say they are not innovative; http://wmpoweruser.com/the-real-value-of-motorolas-patents-when-compared-to-others/
        techiegz@...
      • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

        @Rama.NET

        This further makes me feel that Google has something to hide with their code that was leaked to Moto that they don't want it getting out in the open. Google has always been a creepy shady company with cruel ulterior motives for capturing all your data of you and your life. The reason they push the droid thing so much is all the fools/tools who buy their products are just that, nothing but programmed robots. I bet there is some interesting sneaky creepy proprietary code that would kill their reputation as a company and they would drop off the radar. They said open... Well doesn't seem that way now does it? What is the real benefit? None. They shouldn't have anything to do with this at all as it is between MS and Moto... Yes there is Android OS on the phones but that is not what MS is suing for. Google has something very big to hide if it is willing to dump 12.5B out of thin air. They tried to silence the witness, why is that? What is so important to hide if you're open and free? Sorry just don't trust it... If it looks like $h1*, smells like $h1*, tastes like $h1* then it probably is $h1*. They are shady, crooked, invasive and their slogan is a psychological trick in itself.

        "Don't be evil." Subconscious mind cannot interpret don't. Your subconscious mind can only imagine doing something not the opposite. On the other hand the conscious mind interprets it for what it is and that they are Good not Evil. The lasting effects are that the subconscious mind then believes "be evil" which then allows us to feel that what Google is doing is fine even if it is evil.

        Sorry but I'm not going to fall for those shenanigans.
        audidiablo
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @jk_10 Microsoft typically pursues cross-licencing deals before lawsuits (they're only up to their 7th Microsoft-initiated patent lawsuit) so Moto has presumably turned down that option already; but yes, Moto as patent protection for Android doesn't look that robust...
      mary.branscombe
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @jk_10 Or simply means that MS has already licensed the patents?
      timspublic1@...
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @jk_10

      MS = Patenttroll
      Sultansulan
      • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

        @Sultansulan
        Sultansulan = average troll.
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

        @Sultansulan

        Apple == SuperPatentTroll ()
        omdguy
      • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

        @Mister Spock

        Mister Spock = whiny fake TV space alien troll
        ScorpioBlue
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

    So MS decided to push Moto to make Windows Phone for them but Moto said No. Then MS sued Moto but Google bought Moto thus irritating HTC, LG and Samsung. Now this suit is pretty much useless. If MS can get some money out of it or not it does not matter. HTC, LG and Samsung will have a second look at Windows Phone now. Android does not look as an open, safe and cheap choice it was.
    paul2011
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @paul2011
      I thought HTC, LG and Samsung already made windows phone 7 phones. I wonder why they haven't been releasing that many models lately.....
      anono
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

    Assuming the situation gets bleaker for Motorola and it looks like Microsoft is going to win, then what? If Motorola gets serious about a licensing deal with Microsoft there's not much that Motorola can offer now that they're owned by Google. HTC got a sweet licensing deal (only $5 an Android phone) most likely because they're pumping out tons of Windows Phones (and probably Windows 8 tablets). What can Motorola offer Microsoft?

    Is there court pressure on Microsoft to accept a deal? I presume Microsoft will make Motorola pay the max if they are able to reach a settlement.
    cool8man
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

    Stop considering Mueller as an authority on anything, he is not even a lawyer, don't be lazy taking his words as truth and make some effort and find some real lawyer with knowledge before using Florian as a source.

    To the posters:

    All of you are considering that the other Android makers are not happy, even when they publicly said otherwise. Let's see what happens when time passes.
    czorrilla
    • All they did was regurgitate the lame drivel Google PR gave them and told

      them to put out. None of them are happy about it or believe one bit that it will help protect them from Android patent lawsuits. They were caught of guard and are still formulating their strategic paths forward
      Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @czorrilla
      true that^:D
      clikonco
    • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

      @czorrilla "make some effort and find some real lawyer with knowledge"
      Hmmmm...maybe Mary Jo did put in the effort, and was
      left with Florian??
      wizard57m-cnet
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

    Okay.... Let's guess what Florian Mueller isn't?
    A) A lawyer
    B) A computer engineer
    C) All of the above

    If you know the answer, then you won't be suprised why even well known publications would fall for fake studies like "IE users are dumber than other browser".
    Samic
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

    Amazing the short-term memory of the techmedia that people are again citing Florian Mueller as a source on ANYTHING.

    http://techrights.org/2010/04/11/florian-mueller-and-erika-mann/
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/florian-mueller-finds-a-new-windmill-to-attack-in-ibm/6202
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1939165/mueller-forced-android-copyright-infringement-claims
    http://madhatter.ca/2011/01/26/the-provenance-of-florian-muller/
    jorickman
  • RE: Microsoft vs. Motorola: A look ahead to next week's ITC patent trial

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