The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Motorola violates one of Microsoft’s patents in some of its Android products and has prohibited the import of those products into the U.S.
There will be little immediate effect, as there is a 60-day presidential review period, during which the ban will not take place.
After that, Motorola presumably would either have to stop importing those products, take out a licensing deal with Microsoft, or use a work-around so it won’t have to use the Microsoft technology in its Android products.
Motorola said it may appeal the decision.
Today’s ruling stems from a case that Microsoft filed with the ITC in October 2010, alleging that Motorola violated nine of its patents. Microsoft eventually dropped two of those patents from the case, so the ITC considered seven, saying today that Motorola violated one of them.
The patent that the ITC says Motorola infringed upon is related to calendaring in Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology.
Motorola issued a statement, saying:
Microsoft started its ITC investigation asserting 9 patents against Motorola Mobility. 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. Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term, as the Commission’s ruling is subject to a $0.33/per unit bond during the 60 day Presidential review period. We will explore all options including appeal.
Microsoft issued a statement as well, saying:
Microsoft sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola chose to refuse Microsoft’s efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year. We’re pleased the full Commission agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft’s intellectual property, and 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.
This case is one of many patent cases that Microsoft and Motorola — which is being acquired by Google — are fighting in courtrooms from Seattle to Washington, D.C. to Germany.
This case is separate from another ITC case that Motorola had filed against Microsoft, alleging that Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console infringes on five of Motorola’s patents.
In that case, an ITC judge ruled last month that Microsoft infringes on four of those Motorola patents. That judge’s decision is subject to a full six-member commission review before any import ban might be imposed.
Though the judge in that case had ruled that Microsoft infringed, he also said that Motorola’s reassurances that it would license some of those patents — which are industry standard patents — on fair and reasonable terms were misleading.
The two companies are battling over industry-standards patents in several courts, including a federal court in Seattle.