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Motorola Loses ActiveSync Patent Dispute with Microsoft

December 17, 2013 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Patent disputes in the mobile world are no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention, and even to those who really haven’t.  Motorola and Microsoft have been at eachothers throats for a while now over somewhere in the vicinity of 10 different patents, and they even lost a few of the battles along the way.  Now it looks like they are on the losing end of the deal, with a ruling handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Court over the dispute of a patent that covers how the calendar app on a phone syncs with one on a PC.

If you remember the Windows Mobile days of yore when we needed to use Microsoft ActiveSync to share information between our computers and phones, you’ll know exactly what the patent covers.  Motorola licensed this software before but wasn’t paying Microsoft the royalties based on the idea that the technology was being used prior to Microsoft’s implementation, even citing Apple’s failed Newton PDA of the 90s as using the tech.  The Court of Appeals saw things differently though, and ruled on Microsoft’s behalf, forcing Motorola (and ultimately Google) to pay royalties or face possible bans on products that use the technology.  Motorola has issued an official statement:

“We’re disappointed with this decision but pleased with the overall outcome,” a spokesman for Motorola Mobility told CNET in a statement. “Microsoft lost on eight of its ‘best’ patents, and this lone opinion does not impact our ability to build great products that people love.”

While this is certainly a loss on Motorola and Google’s part, it’s ultimately not that big of a deal.  This isn’t a dispute against Android, or really any of Motorola’s new devices anyway, so the Moto X, Moto G or any of Motorola’s phones that anyone actually cares about aren’t going anywhere.  You also won’t be finding anything changing within Android or Motorola’s implementation of Android since these patents don’t seem to cover any of the newer syncing tech anyway.  Basically what this comes down to is that Motorola couldn’t prove that Apple used this tech before Microsoft could patent it, with the judge citing that the Apple implementation was different from what Motorola was using, and what Microsoft ultimately patented.  If anything this yet again proves the insanity of software patents and their irreparable harm on the industry.

As Microsoft and Motorola continue to foolishly sue each other and continue to exchange billions of dollars between the two companies every year, the industry will continue to move forward in a way that’s not as counter productive as these lawsuits are starting to make it.