Hot on the heels of US customs imposing an International Trade Commission ban on select HTC devices we have yet another exclusion order from the ITC, but this time around it’s Microsoft winning their patent claim against Motorola.
The patent in question dates back to 1998 and relates to scheduling a meeting with a group using a mobile device and having that event sync across mobile devices and PCs. As with many of these claims this sounds like fairly ridiculous feature to be able to patent, but the key is always in the exact implementation of the feature so it’s possible that Motorola will be able to come up with another way of handling the function (that is the tactic HTC employed in their case).
As you may recall from the HTC ruling this exclusion order doesn’t have any immediate ramifications for consumers as first the order goes to President Obama, who has 60 days to overturn the ruling should he so desire. My understanding is that the likelihood of this is just slightly higher than the next iPhone running Jelly Bean. Motorola also indicated that they may seek to appeal the ruling which would further delay an actual ban being put in place.
For Motorola the immediate repercussions are that they must pay Microsoft 33 cents per device during the 60 day review period with the President. A per device licensing fee is one of the potential resolutions to this matter and likely the option that Microsoft would prefer considering they are already pulling in licensing fees from the majority of Android manufacturers.
With Google finally receiving the necessary approval in China for the Motorola acquisition there may well be a different legal team at the helm for this matter by the time the 60 day review period is up — whether that will result in a different strategy going forward is anyone’s guess at the moment, but we’ll be keeping a careful eye on this one as the summer progresses.