Update: More of the story is coming out, and we learn that Motorola was found not to infringe on eight other patents in the case. This verdict is currently under Presidential review, and will be subject to appeal. In a statement to ArsTechnica Motorola has said the following: 

Although we are disappointed by the Commission’s ruling that certain Motorola Mobility products violated one patent, we look forward to reading the full opinion to understand its reasoning. Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term, as the Commission's ruling is subject to a $0.33/per unit bond during the 60 day Presidential review period. We will explore all options including appeal.

The original story follows.

HTC's One X and EVO 4G LTE may soon have a few friends to keep them company while they wait for customs to allow them into the US, as the ITC has decided to ban the import of Motorola Android phones for infringing on a Microsoft patent for "generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device". According to FOSS Patents, this order will likely go into effect in 60 days, as the ITC has rejected Google's claims that an exclusion order was not in the public's best interests. Because of FOSS Patents owner Florian Mueller's close ties to Microsoft and his track record on proceedings of this type, we're awaiting on an official word from both sides to see just how damaging this decision may be before we make any predictions. It's very likely that Motorola can just tweak a setting and comply with the ITC's rulings while they await a full judgment.

If you recall, Motorola has been embroiled in legal disputes with Microsoft while other big players have decided to pay licensing fees to stay out of court. Sometimes this strategy will work, sometimes it backfires. In the end innovation gets stifled by patents on ideas instead of methods, and consumers always lose. More on this as it comes forth.

Source: FOSS Patents



Reader comments

ITC orders import ban on Motorola Android phones over Microsoft patent issues


Not for a long time now. Motorola is another American company that outsourced everything to other country's.

The old players in software are shitscared that someone else can make profits in the new mobile industry. This will pass in a couple of years, when all current disputes are settled, new companies have enough patents on their own for bargaining, and the oldest patents start to expire.

Having said that, I wish a slow and painful death to any company that chooses to block the business of others instead of looking for mutually beneficial solutions.

Don't mean to take this off topic but doesn't the US customs and border control agencies have better things to monitor and watch than smartphones?

Microsoft makes a ton of money on patent deals, what a way to go, can't make anything that sells so they screw everyone they can. Then you have Apple, what can you say about Apple, they just suck.

The only way out off this, people need to stop buying cellphones for one year and you`ll see everyone will goes long good.. The cellphone maker , Microsoft and Apple, has nothing to do, just making more money, over all that, still people running on the release day to buy the phone, as long people doing that, there will be no solution.

Sounds like a " don't buy gas for a day or a week " to make things change. It never happens and it won't.

So, clearly if Motorola decides to enforce it's patent on THE CELLULAR PHONE, the ITC will be happy to halt sales of Microsoft & Apple phones, right? Oh...there could be no competition if they enforced that one? But enforcing all these other crazy ones is just fine?

They license those patents out already. the patent in question was basic thievery by android. I think the actions are many levels of sorry but that's how business is done. google and Motorola need to pay their fair share of licensing fees.

You obviously do not have a clue what you're talking about. Patent, by definition, are required to relate to a specific device or method. Therefore, a patent on "Scheduling a group meeting from a mobile device" is not a valid patent and should never have existed. The real problem here is that the patent office is so horribly broken that they are allowing these patents to be created. I can only imagine that there is either money changing hands, or the patent clerks are at this point simply horrible inept.

US laws regarding reverse engineering specifically state that any device can be reverse engineered and recreated so long as no components from the original device are used. Look at the drug manufacturers. We'd never have "off-brand" NyQuil if you couldn't do stuff like this. And, here, we're not even talking about reverse engineering something and making a competing product. Half of these patents that Microsoft and Apple as using as a cudgel against their competitors they either 1) bought from another company, or 2) got some idiot at the patent office to give them a patent on something that had already been around for years.

The entire patent lawsuit that's blocking the HTC phones from coming into the US right now revolves around a patent for "searching for certain patterns in text and turning them into actionable links". AKA: someone texts you a phone number, and the phone's OS makes it a link you can click on and the phone will dial that number. That technology existing *years* before the iPhone existed. But Apple got a patent on the *idea* which isn't even valid to begin with.

All this patent BS is just a way for companies to try and stifle competition. It drives me nuts. And Phil is 100% correct: *we* are the ones who end up paying for it.

I can understand Microsoft being evil because that's the only way people will buy their phones. Why must Apple sink to this level? Their iPhone has done well consistently since its inception. Why try to snuff out the competition this way? Whatever happened to just competing in the free market instead of running to the courts?

It's over Exchange Active Sync .. which Micro$soft owns. The real solution is for Google or someone else to convince Corp. America to give up the Exchange crackpipe.

*raises hand* Enterprise IT critter here. And what might I ask should they go with that would provide the flexibility of exchange, stability (With newer versions that is.), and integration into active directory that allows total control through policies? Mozilla Thunderbird? Oh wait...I know...Lotus Notes...ROTFL. Outlook and Exchange might not be the greatest solution, but its one of the best on the market.

We don't use Exchange at work, nor MS-Windows, nor Apple products. And yet we seem to survive without them and send/receive countless thousands of Email messages every day, with smtp, web access Email, and a web based calendar, all stored on-site.

... But eventually Google will. I guess you can look at as, Apple stabbing Google in the back, and Microsoft slapping Google in the face. Steve Jobs "declared war on Google, wants to destroy Google and Android".

I could care less if they Friggin kill each other...the problem is their screwing over consumers, hard working and honest customers whom the smartphones mean a great deal to them and are a integral part of their lives. Apple and Microsoft do not care if people hate them. They have gotten so big they have lost sight of the significance and value of a customer.
Their screwing us, not each other.

Damn you Apple! Oh wait...

I'll gladly take bans across the board if it forces the issue and helps to finally sort out this mess. Hopefully the last couple of days will be a shit got real moment in board rooms across the globe.

Software patent bub, has nothing to do with where they are made. If they made phones in the U.S. they would cost 1000x as much.

It's time they shipped dumb bricks that don't come with any software. After purchase, one can then download and install things that no longer make it a brick, but that's not of concern to our 'wonderful' customs officials.

Good idea.
But what happens when you turn your brick into an actual brick and want to use a manufacturer warranty?

I can just imagine the lines of people waiting to get a Windows Phone since they can't get a Motorola soon or HTC. Yep no doubt that huge throngs of people will now switch & are rushing to the stores demanding Win... Oh wait. What am I saying?

I am so glad that we don't have this same issue with like.... umm toilets... geeezzz if all toilet makers wanted to patent how the freakin chain pulls the flap, and then we could not get toilets due to court issues... wow what a shitty situation....

I know, we should open a Mega Tech Daycare so we could help all these damn greedy bastard babies ( GIANT TECH CORPORATIONS ) sort out their little booboos and get along with their friends... ....everyone bring your favorite diapers!!!!!

sorry folks just had to say it

To those that say Google doesn't yet own Motorola Mobility...yes they do. The deal closed, and was approved by the government.

yup he's right, they're waiting on China however so i guess on a global scale they have 1 more government to convince.

You are wrong. Until China gives their thumbs up the deal isn't final. No money had changed hands, or bank accts yet.

can this stupid law suing, patent issue and banning just stop? I tired of reading about this crap. Miss the good old times when this website was only about pure tech news and not business shit.

Well they are letting you know why phones aren't being released. And who is stopping their release.

If all of these android manufactures would learn to innovate like Apple does and stop stealing other peoples ideas motorola and HTC phones wouldn't be sitting in customs. But I guess if it is good enough for google they figure it is good enough for them.

How does Apple innovate? The smart phone? Slide to unlock? The touch screen? Dual antenna technology? Seriously, you've drank too much koolaid, Apple steals as much, if not more, than anyone else.


That is my point. There has been little to no innovation from anyone in the last several years. Everyone borrows from everyone else and tries to improve on that. However this site is flooded with comments on how Apple doesn't innovate, but no one can say what google or their handsets manufactures have done innovative either.

Personally I think that all the good ideas have already been done. They can only improve on what is out there. Sadly the patent system is so jacked up that they have issued patents on things that should never have gotten one in the first place and this is preventing other from using those ideas to make them better.

OK. Slide down notifications, opening the camara from lock screen, auto sending a text instead of answering a call, flash, micro SD cards, removable batteries, sideloading apps, fully open source os, speech to text, and on. These are all non apple or ms ideas. The only people innovative company is Google. After using android for 5 years my next computer will be straight Linux. No Ms or apple os for me.

Imagine if iOS never existed. You'd all be claiming that your Android BlackBerry clones are the most innovative devices ever.

For your information, Apple is using all kinds of Microsoft patents as well. It just so happens they have a cross-licensing deal.

A facepalm cannot do your stupidity justice.

I already hated Microsoft and Apple and now they've sealed it! I wont be force fed the UI that Microsoft wants me to have by buying a Windows Phone 7 device. I wont be stuck with a tarded icon grid, no widgets, use of iTunes and the snobby hipster crowd by getting an iPhone. If it comes down to it, I'll stick with a freaking dumb flip phone and carry a tablet running ubuntu. Screw you AppleSoft!

This is such B.S! !! Apple hasn't innovated anything since Steve Jobs coufin... And even then I think Microsoft made a buck on it...Asa Veizon employee it digusts me to even sell an I-phone!! I do anything in my power to open these Iphone junkies eyes!! Most of these addicts dont even know what the hell Siri is....Oh wait... Its something Android has had for some time now!!! I hope Microsoft chokes on an Apple and Apple on Bill Gates NUGGETS!!!

All I got to say is this...

At least Microsoft is willing to work out a licensing deal. Yes, they profit greatly from Android, but at least we still get to enjoy our devices and OSs of choice.

Apple just wants to be a dick and has no such interests.

So... on the bright side, at least this is Microsoft we're dealing with here, and not the 500lb schoolyard bully.

Google, HTC, Moto, Samsung needs to start doing a massive add blitz around the country spreading awareness that the reason you are getting your phone is because of Apple and Microsoft and explain inexactly which patents they claim they are violating. Your average end user would look at that, share their head and go WTF. Seriously. Time to turn public opinion around. If you have all these companies band together. (Sadly you can't include carriers since Apple has them by the balls like the cattle they are.)

This whole import ban stuff is stupid.

Okay, so Motorola has the ability to use Exchange from within Android. If they didn't want anyone using it, then fine. But here's how I see the solution...

Motorola removes all Exchange functionality from the affected phones.
Microsoft releases a bonafide version of Outlook for Android and puts it in the (ugh) Play Market.
Microsoft gets what they want, and so does Motorola.

No need to ban products, this seems just plain childish.

Wow. Looks like with HTC and now Motorola banned, the US is down to one major Android Manufacturer: Samsung. Huge win for Apple and Microsoft; however, as usual, it is the consumers who will end up getting the short end of the stick.

How is Samsung escaping all this litigation?? Is Apple and Microsoft just picking off the little guys to build precedence? Investigate the World!!!!!

Samsung hasn't 'escaped' litigation. What Samsung did was finally cough up the cash ($15/per Android device) to make this go away. Motorola refused to pay Microsoft, while HTC is in worse shape because Apple refuses to accept any money, they just want to see Android die at whatever the cost.

As far back as the 50s - many engineers said that implementing concept patents, following directly the model of patents covering physical inventions, was a hostage to fortune.

Historically, a physical invention (often the product of an individual) had a limited life and legal reach. Concept patents (thus applied by huge companies) actively closes down avenues for development and stifle innovation in all directions, in an interlocking manner that spreads like a web or virus.

Governments and legislators face huge resistance to reforming this system, by well funded international companies; often defending vested interests with veiled threats of retaliation. Even China, which historically turned a blind eye to IP, has broadly fallen into line.

To value and licence the use of a concept without prejudice becomes essential - Today they are used as instruments of commercial war, by companies like Apple. It is a system which harms consumers, and society as a whole. Concept patents are in profound need of reform.