Xbox Did Not Copy Google Patent, ITC Judge Rules Out


An administrative law judge of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Microsoft Xbox didn’t infringe on a Google Patent held by Motorola Mobility, which is now owned by Google.

A report on CNET said that Judge David Shaw reversed his earlier ruling that put a ban on Microsoft’s Xbox from being imported into the United States.

He said in a one-page ruling that Microsoft did not violate Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which refers to claims involving intellectual property rights, patent infringement and trademark infringement of imported goods.

Shaw’s previous decision said that the Microsoft Xbox 360 S infringed on Motorola’s wireless and video coding patents. The ITC will review Shaw’s findings and will release a final determination on July 23 this year. It may adopt or change the decision on its determination.

Microsoft welcomed the ruling. David Howard, the corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, said in a statement to CNET that they are pleased with Shaw’s decision that the company did not infringe on Motorola’s patent. He added that he is confident the ITC will affirm the decision.

Howard also said that the company’s confidence stems from the fact that the commission already dismissed the four other Motorola patents which were originally part of the investigation.

For its part, Google has expressed its dismay about the decision. Matt Kallman, spokesman for Google, told CNET that they are hoping the commission will reverse this ruling by Shaw. He said that Google, who bought Motorola last year for $12.5 billion, is “disappointed” with the decision.

Shaw ruled that US patent 6,069,896 has not been infringed by Microsoft. The patent refers to wireless peer-to-peer communications allegedly being used by the game console. This patent was the last one in the case filed by Motorola against Microsoft.

The original dispute in November 2010 consisted of five patents. However, Motorola withdraw its claim on two patents in view of the settlement between Google and the Federal Trade Commission for the H.264 video compressing standard. Another two patent claims, referring to the 802.11 standard, were withdrawn by Motorola in October last year.

But even with the withdrawals of the claims, Motorola maintained that its rights were not waived in the pending lawsuits against Microsoft in the US District Courts for the Western District of Washington and the Western District of Wisconsin. Motorola also plans to pursue past damages.

Public and Industry Concern

The case filed by Motorola against Microsoft were watched closely by government antitrust agencies, US Congressmen and private companies because of the mix up of industry standard technologies in the dispute. Most organizations and companies were concerned if such industry standard patents are being used to ban the competition.

Of course, the ban on the Xbox also made a dent on the expectations of the game console’s fans. And the battle is far from over as the two companies await the commission’s decision on the case in July this year. That means that, at least for now, the Xbox 360 S still hangs in a precarious position.

Sources: CNET and NetworkWorld