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Motorola Android Phones Import Ban Starts, Products Will Still Be Available in US

The import ban issued by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against Motorola Android devices takes effect today, Wednesday, July 18th, barring the sales of smartphones and tablets on the list. Despite strict implementation of ITC, Motorola said in a statement on Tuesday that its devices will still be available in the US despite the ban, although it hasn’t provided the details of the “proactive measures” it will take so as not to compromise its sales.

“Motorola has taken proactive measures to ensure that our industry leading smartphones remain available to consumers in the US,” a Motorola representative said.

ITC’s exclusion order revolves around the following Motorola devices:

  • Atrix
  • Backflip
  • Bravo
  • Charm
  • Cliq
  • Cliq 2
  • Cliq XT
  • Defy
  • Devour
  • Droid 2
  • Droid 2 Global
  • Droid Pro
  • Droid X
  • Droid X2
  • Flipout
  • Flipside
  • Spice
  • Xoom

A Microsoft representative, however, said that the import ban is not limited to the devices listed above. The fact is, the complaint filed in 2010 was broader than anyone could have expected but it didn’t really mention a specific device. Here is a clause from the complaint filed by Microsoft;

“Mobile devices, associated software and components thereof covered by claims 1, 2, 5, or 6 of United States Patent No. 6,370,566 that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, Respondent [i.e. Motorola] or any of its affiliated companies, parents, subsidiaries, successors, assigns, or other related business entities, are excluded from entry for consumption into the United States, entry for consumption from a foreign trade zone, or withdrawal from a warehouse for consumption, for the remaining term of the patent.”

ITC’s exclusion order was actually issued on May 18th this year giving Google’s newly-acquired company 60 days to comply. This margin was actually intended for Presidential Review which usually takes at least two months. But this specific legal feud started in October 2010 when Redmond-based software titan filed a complaint reiterating that several of Motorola smartphones infringed one of its patents, which focuses more on generating meeting requests via mobile devices.

While this legal battle certainly looks nastier today, both companies already had history in suing each other in the past. The phone maker also sought an import ban against Microsoft’s Xbox 360 after it filed a complaint over a patent infringement. In a report from Ars Technica, ITC Administrative Law Judge David Shaw found the gaming console infringing Motorola’s video transmission and compression patent as well as the way to enable 802.11 WiFi. However, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent a memo to Judge Shaw asking him to reconsider his decision because an import ban on Xbox 360 may create considerable harm to consumers. The decision is expected in August.

It looks like the Motorola-Microsoft court battle would become one of the nastiest in history with the possibility of causing unimaginable damages to the industry. A representative said that Motorola will comply with the import ban but people are more interested in knowing how the company could make its devices available in the US market.

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