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Microsoft’s Xbox Infringes Motorola’s Patents, Says Judge

Microsft says Motorola’s patents are essential to industry standards for video coding and communicaions

A US International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has issued an initial ruling that Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console infringes on Motorola Mobility-owned patents.

Administrative law judge David P Shaw agreed that four out of the five patents claimed by Motorola in the infringement suit were violated, but deferred any decision on a proposed ban on imports of the Xbos to a  six-member commission in August.

FRAND issue

The patents Microsoft is ruled to have violated relate to industry standard video coding, Wi-Fi technology and device-to-device communications, Bloomberg reports. Microsoft has challenged the mobile maker’s right to use these patents in court as they form part of industry standards and are meant to be licensed under FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms.

“Today’s recommendation by the administrative law judge is the first step in the process leading to the commission’s final ruling,” said Microsoft in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “We remain confident the commission will ultimately rule in Microsoft’s favour in this case and that Motorola will be held to its promise to make its standard-essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms.”

Prior to the ITC lawsuit and judgement, Motorola sent letters to Microsoft demanding royalties of 2.25 percent on all products, including the Xbox, using its patents. The latter company, believing the demand to be a breach of Motorola’s fair terms agreement, filed suit.

“Microsoft continues to infringe Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio, and we remain confident in our position,” said Becki Leonard, a Motorola spokeswoman, in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “This case was filed in response to Microsoft’s litigate-first patent attack strategy, and we look forward to the full commission’s ruling in August.”

While it is expected that Motorola will not enforce an import ban against the Xbox, the ITC’s decision will give the company, and soon-to-be parent Google, leverage in other ongoing suits.

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