updated 06:05 pm EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
Little actual market value at stake; all 18 devices more than two years old
Microsoft filed a lawsuit today accusing the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) of not enforcing a US International Trade Commission (ITC) embargo order of Google's Motorola Mobility phones. Microsoft believes that US Customs held secret meetings with the search engine, and that after the meeting the agency continued to let the embargoed phone enter the country.
Microsoft brought a dispute to the ITC in 2010 claiming that Motorola's Android devices -- now covering mostly discontinued phones from the era like the Backflip and Droid X -- were violating its patents for contacts, memory, sync, and others. All but one of the patents were tossed from the challenge in the intervening two years, but MS did win an injunction on the remaining patent.
The ITC fight, when it began, was part of the early stages of a campaign Microsoft waged, attacking Android as using stolen technology and inflating the cost of using Android through royalties and threatened lawsuits. Microsoft's ITC disputes and lawsuits have focused only on companies that either can't or won't use Windows Phone, as it has usually softened its tone and offered royalty discounts to firms like HTC that offer at least some support. Motorola was committed exclusively to Android even before the Google takeover offer, and now won't have the option to switch.
"Customs has a clear responsibility to carry out ITC decisions, which are reached after a full trial and rigorous legal review," Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard said in a statement. "Here Customs repeatedly ignored its obligation and did so based on secret discussions."
"The only conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from CBP's pattern of conduct is that CBP will not enforce the commission's exclusion order absent a court order compelling it to do so," claims Microsoft. "CBP has repeatedly allowed Motorola to evade that order based on secret presentations that CBP has refused to share with Microsoft."