Google and Motorola took one on the chin today when the International Trade Commision upheld an earlier determination that Motorola’s Android handsets infringe on Microsoft patent no. 6,370,566 which involves “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device”. This is an exclusion order, which means that in 60 days Motorola will have to work around (strip the feature from its phones) the Microsoft patent or stop importing them into the USA. Allowing an import ban to kick in would be suicide for Motorola, so modification is the only real option that they have.
There are appeals that Motorola can file and the entire thing is subject to Presidential review, but in the end Moto will remove the infringing feature and move on. Motorola devices will also be the only Android handsets that are missing this ability because nearly every other Android OEM has taken a license to the Microsoft patent portfolio.
This really isn’t as much a problem for Motorola as it is for Google. China will OK the buyout soon and Google will be faced with the prospect of one of their subsidiaries signing a patent licensing deal with Microsoft, or face the prospect of their own handsets being gimped to work around IP that they refuse to pay for.
Google and Microsoft compete in search, advertising, office suites, mobile and now even in the desktop OS space so sending Microsoft a check, even if through Motorola has to be a revolting idea to Google.
Then again, the ITC has also ruled that the Xbox violates Motorola patents relating to H.264 compression, so maybe Google is hoping in the end that this all turns into a gigantic standoff. Not the best business plan ever conceived, but may just be better than some of the other options on the table.
Source: FOSS Patents