Microsoft Google Patent Dispute Being Reconsidered by ITC

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A victory for Google’s Motorola Mobility branch was dashed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Thursday, as the court held the International Trade Commission erred with its noninfringement finding on a graphical interface patent in dispute by the parties. The decision breathes new life into litigation that first began in 2010, when Microsoft first filed a complaint with the Internal Trade Commission alleging Motorola Mobility violated 19 USC ยง 1337 — section 337 of the 1930 Tariff Act — by importing patent-infringing tablets and mobile phones.

The decision of the Federal Circuit did not fault every finding made by the International Trade Commission, noting that the commission was correct in its conclusion that since the institution of the suit, Motorola Mobility had altered its products so they no longer infringed the patents in question. Additionally, the Federal Circuit agreed with the commission’s finding of non-infringement of three other patents.

With regard to the 133 patent, however, the Federal Circuit concluded the factual record “requires reversal of the 133 patent non-infringement judgment” entered by the International Trade Commission. The 133 patent is related to smartphone software involved in scheduling meetings, which originally had been part of Motorola Mobility phones carrying Google’s Android operating system. The original finding of infringement led to the devices in question being banned from the United States.

Later, after Google altered its devices, the International Trade Commission found there was no longer any infringement of the 133 patent. The Federal Circuit stressed, however, that despite the alterations that eliminated the infringing nature of the Google devices, Google was still liable for infringing Microsoft’s patent with the initially imported smartphones and tablets.

Commenting on the Federal Circuit’s decision, Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard said the company was “pleased the court determined Google unfairly uses Microsoft technology.” Howard further noted that Microsoft prefers that Google license Microsoft-owned patents for use, but that the company is “equally pleased if Google makes product adjustments to avoid” infringement.

In addition to this litigation, Microsoft is also involved in another case related to Motorola Mobility’s patent infringement. The suit, filed in July, alleges that U.S. Customs officials refused to follow a ban on the importation of infringing Motorola Mobility devices issued in May 2012.

 

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