Xbox U.S. Ban Delayed, Judge to Reconsider Case
Good news for Xbox fans: Microsoft's gadgets will not be banned from the United States, at least for now. A U.S. trade panel has decided to put off a final ruling on a complaint Google's Motorola Mobility unit filed against Microsoft, accusing the software maker of infringing its patents to make the popular Xbox, Reuters reported.
Back in April, a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) judge ruled that Microsoft infringed four patents owned by Google's recently-acquired Motorola Mobility, but did not infringe on a fifth patent named in the complaint. An ITC judge recommended the ban in late May, based on his ruling that Microsoft's Xbox infringes patents covering wireless Internet connectivity, video compression, and other technologies. The ITC was expected to release a decision on the proposed import block in August, but on Friday, June 29, the full commission sent the case back to the judge for reconsideration.
According to Microsoft, the patents in question are standard-essential, i.e. FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) patents, therefore the company has a right to the technology covered by the patents as long as it pays licensing fees. FRAND patents cover technologies accepted as standards for a certain industry, provided the patent holders agree to license those standard-essential patents at reasonable rates.
After an ITC judge recommended banning Microsoft's Xbox in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wrote a letter to the ITC, warning that such a ban could cause "substantial harm" to consumers, competition and innovation. The FTC also suggested that companies should have limited abilities to block competitors' imports based on standard-essential patents.
The ITC is a very popular venue for patent lawsuits, because it has the authority to ban the importation of infringing products. Also, it is a preferred venue because it issues decisions relatively quickly. According to Reuters, however, this time the ITC judge's reconsideration of the Xbox case "will likely take months."
News also emerged on Friday, June 29, that the U.S. FTC has launched an investigation to determine whether Google and its Motorola Mobility unit have been respecting their FRAND commitments. The European Commission opened a similar probe into Motorola back in April. Motorola has also filed related lawsuits against Microsoft in federal courts in Wisconsin and Florida. Those lawsuits are currently pending an ITC decision.
U.S. FTC to Probe Google over Motorola Mobility Patents - Report
A U.S. antitrust regulator has opened a formal investigation to determine whether Google’s Motorola Mobility unit is respecting the pledges it made to license industry-standard technology for mobile and other devices on FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported, citing “three people familiar with the situation.”
Microsoft Pays $1.2 Billion to Acquire Yammer: What will it Gain?
Software giant Microsoft Corp. announced on Monday, June 25, that it has agreed to buy business-oriented social networking firm Yammer for $1.2 billion in cash. Shares of the Redmond, Washington-based company dropped 2.7 percent to close to $29.86 after the announcement, underscoring the importance of cloud computing and social networking in the enterprise market for information technology.
Smartphone War: Apple vs. Motorola Patent Case Tossed Out with Prejudice
A U.S. judge decided on Friday, June 22, to toss out the Apple v. Motorola patent infringement case for good, putting an end to a key case for the iPhone maker in its smartphone patent war. Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. District of Northern Illinois ruled neither Apple nor Motorola Mobility has been able to prove damages, and dismissed the litigation with prejudice, meaning that neither company will be permitted to refile a claim.
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