updated 07:42 pm EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Microsoft-led suit led to embargo of older Motorola devices, suits continue
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld Microsoft's ban on Motorola's products that used a meeting scheduler patent. Google-owned Motorola attempted to get the ruling overturned, hoping that the court would invalidate the patent and overturn the US International Trade Commission finding holding it valid.
The ITC found that 18 Motorola devices, including the Droid smartphone and Xoom tablet, infringed the patent in question. Motorola disputed the ruling and the ITC agreed to review the case, however the agency has made a "final determination" regarding the violation and determined that an import ban represents the "appropriate form of relief."
Motorola has refused -- and still refuses -- to pay Microsoft royalties for the patent, where nearly every other Android cellphone manufacturer has done so. The import ban has been in place for nearly 18 months on devices mostly irrelevant to the modern market.
Microsoft believes that US Customs held secret meetings with Motorola's parent company Google earlier in 2013 -- and that after the series of meetings, the Customs and Border Patrol continued to let the embargoed devices enter the US. "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."
Patent analyst Florian Mueller believes that the standard for the appeals court to reject the embargo based on invalidity was a nearly impossible hill to climb, calling it a "rather difficult standard of review for appellants to overcome." Mueller believes that "one can't blame the ITC for arriving at its conclusions, but the appeals court might have upheld the opposite decision as well."