ITC: Motorola violates one of Microsoft's mobile patents

The U.S. ITC has issued a preliminary ruling in Microsoft's case against Motorola Mobility and has found Motorola to be violating one of seven patents in question.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The preliminary ruling in the U.S. International Trade Commission case involving Microsoft and Motorola Mobility is in, as of December 20.

The ITC found that Motorola Mobility is in violation of one of Microsoft's patents, U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566. This patent, makes it possible for users to schedule meetings from their mobile devices. Here's a link to the initial determination from today.

Florian Mueller, of FOSS Patents blog fame (and who is doing a paid study for Microsoft on FRAND patents), has a chart explaining more about patent '566.

Microsoft had been seeking to prove that Motorola Mobility infringed seven of its mobile patents.

Microsoft's official statement, attributable to David Howard, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel:

“We are pleased with the ITC’s initial determination finding Motorola violated four claims of a Microsoft patent. As Samsung, HTC, Acer and other companies have recognized, respecting others’ intellectual property through licensing is the right path forward.”

The next step in this case is a final determination by the six-member commission. Then the ITC judge takes the staff's opinions into account in making a final decision.

Microsoft sued Motorola on October 1, 2010, over alleged infringement of Motorola’s Android smartphones on Microsoft’s patents. On November 9, Microsoft sued Motorola again over wireless and video coding patents that are used by the Xbox and smartphones. In the latter case, Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola retaliated with its own countersuit on November 10, 2010, claiming infringement of 16 of its patents by Microsoft’s PC and server software, Windows Mobile and Xbox products.

As Mueller noted in his post on the Administrative Law Judge's initial determination, the Microsoft-Motorola Mobility dispute is "now keeping multiple courts in the United States and Germany busy with more than 50 different patents-in-suit."

Earlier this month, European antitrust regulators suspended their review of Google's intended purchase of Motorola Mobility, and are seeking further information before the acquisition can proceed.

Updates: Microsoft is claiming that 18 devices include code from patent '566. The 18: Atrix, Backflip, Bravo, Charm, Cliq, Cliq 2, Cliq XT, Defy, Devour, Droid 2, Droid 2 Global, Droid Pro, Droid X, Droid X2, Flipout, Flipside, Spice, Xoom Tablet. Geekwire has a link to the Motorola Mobility statement, which includes the following information on what's next:

"The final decision in this case, based on the deliberation of the full ITC, is expected by April 20, 2012. The ITC’s final determination ruling would be subject to a 60-day review period by U.S. President Obama. The Company noted that sales outside the U.S. are not within the focus of the ITC."

Speaking of lawsuits... I never did note that the Novell vs. Microsoft antitrust case (dating back to the Windows 95 days) came to an end on December 16. The jury was hung (because of a lone juror), so Microsoft was off the hook and didn't have to pay Novell over $1 billion in damages. Microsoft has filed paperwork asking a federal judge to dismiss the case for good.

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