In a significant patent victory for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT: Quote), the U.S. International Trade Commission, in its preliminary ruling, has ordered a ban on the import of some models of Motorola Mobility Holding Inc.'s (MMI: Quote) Android phones and tablets into America. This ruling is an affirmation of a decision taken Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Theodore Essex in December 2011.
Motorola Mobility Holdings has agreed to be acquired by Google, Inc. (GOOG: Quote), with the deal expected to close in the first half of 2012.
The patent infringement claims were filed by the software giant against Motorola in October 2010, particularly for infringing Microsoft's U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566. The patent relates to "generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device".
The 566 patent is the only one the ITC judge found that Motorola's Android devices infringes of the seven (originally nine) patents that Microsoft named in its complaint. About 18 Motorola products, including the Atrix and Droid smartphones, as well as the Xoom tablet, are affected by the ruling.
ITC's ban order is subject to a 60-day review by the Obama administration, after which the order will come into force if it is not overturned by the government. Meanwhile, ITC has also imposed a 33-cent levy on each device Motorola imports into the U.S. during the 60-day review period.
However, Motorola can get the ruling reversed by removing the infringing feature from its devices or by reaching a patent licensing deal with Microsoft. Many other Android handset makers, such as Samsung, LG and HTC have a running deal with Microsoft on the patent.
Motorola had a license to this patent, but Microsoft is said to have sued Motorola in the ITC only after Motorola refused Microsoft's efforts to renew a patent license for well over a year. Motorola is currently the only Android device maker that is embroiled in litigation with Microsoft.
MSFT closed Friday's regular trading session at $29.27, down $0.45 or 1.51% on a volume of 56.21 million shares, and MMI closed at $39.20, unchanged on a volume of 11.55 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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