A judge with the U.S. International Trade Commission has issued an initial ruling that Microsoft’s Xbox console does not infringe on a Motorola patent.
The administrative law judge’s decision today, if upheld by the ITC’s full six-member commission that will review the case in July, means it would be impossible for Motorola, now owned by Google, to be granted an import ban on the Xbox, as it had sought.
Today’s decision stems from a case in which Motorola claims that certain technologies used in the Xbox violates its patents. Motorola sought a ban from the ITC on the import into the U.S. of all Xbox consoles, which are manufactured mainly in China.
“We are disappointed with today’s determination and look forward to the full commission’s review,” Google said in a statement.
Microsoft issued a statement from David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, saying: “We are pleased with the administrative law judge’s finding that Microsoft did not violate Motorola’s patent and are confident that this determination will be affirmed by the commission. The ITC has already terminated its investigation on the other four patents originally asserted by Motorola against Microsoft.”
Motorola’s case, brought before the ITC in 2010, had originally said Microsoft violated five of its patents.
ITC Judge David Shaw had initially ruled in April 2012 that Microsoft had violated four of those five patents that Motorola had originally brought forward in the case. But the full six-member commission later remanded the entire case back to Judge Shaw for reconsideration.
Four of the five patents were later removed from the case. (All four of those patents were standard-essential patents – patents for technologies deemed so essential that they have become standard use in the industry. Google removed two of them when they were about to expire. Google removed two more after it settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in January, agreeing to license its standard-essential patents on fair and reasonable terms.)
Today’s decision on the only remaining patent in the case will not have any immediate impact since it still needs the approval of the full six-member commission.
This blog post has been corrected to note that four of the five patents involved in the case were later removed. The blog post had originally said three of the five patents had been removed.