Motorola vows to fight Android device import ban, could be playing games with Microsoft

Motorola has vowed to fight back against a ban on the import of its Android devices in the USA, which comes into power today, following a patent battle with Microsoft.

The International Trade Commission made a ruling against Motorola back in May, after it was deemed to have infringed upon a Microsoft-held patent related to scheduling events using Exchange ActiveSync, and the Presidential Review period has now come to an end with no changes in the situation.

No specific Android devices were mentioned, but as the complaint dates back to 2010, those used as examples include older models such as the Motorola Defy, Cliq, Droid Pro, Droid X and the original Xoom tablet.

Faced with being unable to import any new devices covered under the ruling, Motorola has the choice of paying for the patent, which according to, is exactly what it did between 2003 and 2007, or updating the software so that it no longer includes the problematic feature.

A statement issued by the company doesn’t indicate which way it will go, but does reassure customers that Motorola devices will remain available. Exactly what the “proactive measures” are also remains a mystery, however it’s speculated that Motorola will most likely remove the functionality rather than cough up for the license.

This seems like an especially stubborn solution to the problem, where nobody except Motorola’s accountants win.

Motorola could also still be smarting after its stern telling off from Judge Posner in a patent case against Apple, of which the ruling had ramifications in Motorola’s own case against Microsoft and the Xbox 360, and may offer a reason for Motorola’s obstinance.

Motorola’s refusal to pay Microsoft for the ActiveSync patent could be a bargaining tool for that case, as coincidentally, it’s an ActiveSync patent that’s the problem there too. Microsoft turned down Motorola’s initial offer to settle the dispute, due to unreasonable terms.

The closing phrase in today’s official statement seems to drop a similar hint, with Motorola saying “we respect the value of intellectual property and expect other companies to do the same.”

The to-and-fro will no doubt continue.


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