* Patent allows devices to communicate wirelessly
* ITC can ban infringing products from importation
* Tech companies have spent billions on patent fights
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, March 22 Microsoft Corp did
not violate a patent owned by Google subsidiary
Motorola Mobility when it made its popular Xbox, an
administrative law judge at the International Trade Commission
said in a preliminary decision issued on Friday.
A final ITC decision in the case is due in July.
The fight over the Xbox video game console is related to the
larger smartphone patent war between Apple, Microsoft
and the mobile phone makers who use Google's Android software,
including its subsidiary Motorola Mobility.
Motorola Mobility accused Microsoft of infringing five
patents when it filed its complaint in 2010. Four have been
One patent remains, according to the ITC docket for the
case. That patent allows devices to communicate wirelessly over
If the ITC finds that a company infringes upon a patent, the
infringing product can be barred from importation into the
"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," said David Howard, corporate vice president and
deputy general counsel, Microsoft, in an emailed statement.
Google said it was disappointed.
"We are disappointed with today's determination and look
forward to the full commission's review," said spokesman Matt
Kallman in an emailed statement.
Tech companies have spent billions of dollars to buy patent
portfolios that they can use defensively or offensively, and
still more money litigating the cases around the world.
The long-running Xbox case has seen many twists and turns
since it was filed in late 2010.
In April 2012, ITC Judge David Shaw said in a preliminary
decision that Microsoft infringed four patents and did not
infringe on a fifth.
But instead of deciding the case, as is usual, in June 2012,
the trade panel sent the case back to the judge for
In January, following an antitrust settlement with federal
regulators, Google asked a trade panel to drop two patents from
the complaint because they were essential to a standard. These
types of patents ensure interoperability and get special
Google had promised the Federal Trade Commission that it
would no longer request sales bans based on the infringement of
standard essential patents because they are supposed to be
broadly licensed on fair and reasonable terms.
The FTC, U.S Department of Justice and U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office argue that companies should not request sales
bans when filing infringement lawsuits based on patents that are
essential to a standard in most cases. Standard essential
patents ensure that devices are interoperable.
The ITC is a popular venue for patent lawsuits because it
can bar the importation of infringing products and because it
issues decisions relatively quickly.
Motorola Mobility filed related lawsuits against Microsoft
in federal courts in Wisconsin and Washington. They are both
stayed pending an ITC decision.
The case is at the International Trade Commission, No.