On Friday, in a preliminary decision, an administrative law judge at the International Trade Commission held that while making its popular Xbox, Microsoft Corp did not violate a patent owned by Motorola Mobility, which is now a Google subsidiary. A final decision on the matter is expected in July.
In 2010, Motorola Mobility had accused Microsoft of infringing five of its patents in the making of Xbox. Complaints about four of those patents have since been dropped. The fifth seems destined to perish, after Friday’s decision by the ITC.
The remaining complaint concerns a patent that allows wireless communication between devices which are only a small distance apart from each other. The battle over the Xbox console also has its implications on similar Motorola/Google claims in the smartphone patent wars currently waging between Google, Apple and Microsoft and involving Android platform users like Samsung.
Commenting on the ruling, David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft emailed a statement observing, “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.”
However, Google spokesman Matt Kallman stated in an email, “We are disappointed with today’s determination and look forward to the full commission’s review” indicating Google would fight to the end.
Things are far from over, as in April 2012, ITC Judge David Shaw had made a preliminary finding that Microsoft had in fact infringed four patents and did not infringe a fifth. But without deciding on the ruling, the ITC sent back the matter for reconsideration.
Later a number of claims of patent infringement were dropped by Google following an antitrust settlement with federal regulators and Google promised the Federal Trade Commission that it would refrain from asking sales bans based on the infringement of essential patents.