Bloomberg News

Microsoft Ruling in Motorola Mobility Case to Get Review

March 02, 2012

A U.S. trade agency said it will review a judge’s findings that Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI) infringed one Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) patent and not six others.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said today that it will consider aspects of all seven patents. The agency has the power to block imports of products that violate U.S. patent rights. Notice of the decision was posted on the agency’s website.

Motorola Mobility, being bought by Google Inc. (GOOG), was accused of infringing seven Microsoft patents. Microsoft said it’s owed royalties from any company making products running on Google’s Android operating system, and filed the ITC complaint to stop imports of Motorola Mobility’s Android-based phones.

The judge found that the six patents weren’t infringed, and that two were invalid. The case targets Motorola Blur devices, including the Atrix, Backflip, Bravo, Charm, Cliq, Devour, Droid, Droid 2, Spice and the Xoom tablet.

The commission said it will consider the judge’s infringement analyses of the patents, the validity of the patent that Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex had found infringed, and whether Microsoft had met the requirement that it be using the inventions as well.

“We look forward to the ITC’s review of the issues it has identified,” Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard said in an e-mailed statement. “We remain confident that the Commission will affirm that Motorola has infringed our intellectual property.”

Broader Effort

Motorola Mobility said the questions asked by the commission may help it win the case.

“Motorola is pleased with today’s ITC notice identifying the issues to be reviewed in the ALJ’s initial determination of December 20, 2011,” Christa Smith, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail.

The case is part of a broader effort to curtail the growth of Android, licensed for free by Google to further its mobile- advertising business. The platform has become the most popular for smartphones, with 51 percent of the global market in the fourth quarter, compared with 2 percent for Microsoft, according to researcher Gartner Inc.

Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, has said it reached licensing agreements with makers of more than 70 percent of the Android-based smartphones sold in the U.S.

Apple Inc. (AAPL), whose operating system had 24 percent of the global smartphone market, also is suing makers of Android devices, seeking to force Android handset and tablet makers into removing key features that it contends copy the iPhone and iPad. Overall, the companies are vying for share of a market that researcher IDC said increased 55 percent last year.

Infringed Patent

The patent found to be infringed by Essex is among those covering a Microsoft program called ActiveSync, which is broadly licensed through the industry, including to Apple and Google. Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, has said it would be able to design around the patent to ensure imports aren’t stopped.

The patents in which no violation was found by the judge involved methods to eliminate redundant data transmission, generate meeting requests, create file names, select from content menus, manage changes to a contact database and integrate computer functions to a telephone.

XBox Claim

Motorola Mobility has filed its own patent-infringement claim against Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft at the agency, seeking to block sales of the XBox video-gaming system. Essex is scheduled to release his findings in that case on April 23.

Microsoft said Feb. 22 it filed a competition complaint against Google and Motorola Mobility in Europe, claiming the companies have refused to license their patents on fair and reasonable terms. Google called the European Commission complaint “just another example of their attempts to use the regulatory process to attack competitors,” and Motorola Mobility has said it’s willing to license the patents.

Microsoft’s case against Motorola Mobility is In the Matter of Certain Mobile Devices, Associated Software and Components Thereof, 337-744, while Motorola Mobility’s case against Microsoft is In the matter of Gaming and Entertainment Consoles, 337-752, both U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net


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