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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

July 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Import ban on certain Motorola devices goes into effect today; Motorola says smartphones will still be available

An import ban on certain Motorola devices that carry a certain Microsoft technology goes into effect today but Motorola says it has “taken proactive measures” to make sure its smartphones remain available to U.S. consumers.

The import ban was the result of a patent dispute between Microsoft and Motorola, in which the software giant said some of Motorola’s Android devices infringed on some of Microsoft’s patents. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in May that Motorola violates one of Microsoft’s patents — related to calendaring in Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology — and imposed an import ban. That ban goes into effect today.

The ITC import ban didn’t mention specific devices but Ars Technica reports that the ITC proceedings centered on these Motorola products: the 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, and Xoom.

The ban means that Motorola has to either stop importing those products containing the ActiveSync technology that was under dispute or use a work-around so it won’t have to use the Microsoft technology. The import ban does not affect the sales of those products already in the U.S.

In a statement, Motorola said: “In view of the ITC exclusion order which becomes effective Wednesday with respect to the single ActveSync patent upheld in Microsoft’s ITC-744 proceeding, Motorola has taken proactive measures to ensure that our industry leading smartphones remain available to consumers in the U.S. We respect the value of intellectual property and expect other companies to do the same.”

Motorola, now owned by Google, would not say definitively whether it’s developed a technological work-around but a spokeswoman said: “While we can’t share specific details, we have employed a range of pro-active measures to ensure there is no continuing infringement under the ITC’s interpretation of this single Microsoft patent.”

The spokeswoman added that the patent in question relates only to a specific calendar synching feature of ActiveSync in which calendar meeting requests are generated by an ActiveSync-enabled mobile phone.

Microsoft sent a statement as well, saying: “Microsoft brought this case only after Motorola stopped licensing our intellectual property but continued to use our inventions in its products. It’s unfortunate we’ve been forced to pursue legal action, but the solution for Motorola remains licensing our intellectual property at market rates as most other Android manufacturers have already done.”

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