Microsoft Wins ITC Xbox Ruling Over Motorola Patent

Microsoft continues to get the better of Google in the bitter patent and licensing wars between the two corporations.

The latest twist to the saga concerns a Motorola Mobility patent that Google claims has been violated by Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console.

ITC Xbox ruling

The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled on Thursday that the Xbox does not violate a patent owned by Motorola. It essentially upheld an earlier ruling that cleared the Xbox back in March.

Google had initially filed the lawsuit back in 2010, when it alleged the Xbox violated five of Motorola’s patents, including two standards essential patents for H.264 video encoding and playback, as well as one concerning the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard.

For a time Google achieved some success, and in May 2012 it even managed to get an injunction that banned Microsoft from distributing its Windows 7 operating system and the Xbox game console in Germany.

Microsoft was therefore facing a similar ban on the importing of the Xbox console in the United States if the ITC had ruled against it. But Google has been on a losing streak of late, and the latest ITC  ruling has compounded its misery.

Google for its part had been steadily reducing the number of patents in the case. It originally said five patents had been violated, but gradually reduced the number. In January it asked the ITC to remove two more patents from the case, leaving a patent that specifies a peer-to-peer wireless invention as the sole remaining complaint.

“This is a win for Xbox customers and confirms our view that Google had no grounds to block our products,” David Howard, a Microsoft deputy general counsel, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

Stop fighting

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Google, said the company was disappointed and was evaluating its next steps. The case could apparently be appealed to a Federal circuit court that specialises in patent law.

“Since mid-January this ITC investigation had been down to only one (non-standard-essential) patent after after Google withdrew four standard-essential patents (SEPs) from this case,” explained patent expert Florian Mueller in a blog posting on the Foss patents website.

“I’ve said before that Google should license, not litigate,” said Mueller, who then went on to comment about Google’s continued legal setbacks of late.

“And others feel that it’s time to formally write down the $5.5 billion (£3.64bn) book value of Motorola’s patent portfolio,” said Mueller. “Its litigation results are too miserable to justify even a fraction of that amount.”

Indeed, this is not the first time that Microsoft has beaten Google.

Last May, the ITC issued its final determination in Microsoft’s Android infringement case against Motorola. It ruled that Motorola violated a Microsoft patent related to ActiveSync, a mobile data synchronisation technology and protocol developed by Microsoft, originally released in 1996.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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