David Shaw, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge, has ruled that Microsoft’s XBox 360 should be banned in the U.S for violating Motorola patents.
The 360 violates four Motorola patents, according to the ITC judge. Shaw made his initial ruling back in April, and has now recommended a ban on sales and imports of the game console.
But the 360 won’t be disappearing from shelves any time soon. The ruling still faces approval or modifications by the ITC board of commissioners, with a deadline of August 23rd. Even if the agree with Shaw, the Obama administration must still approve within 60 days.
The battle between Motorola and Microsoft goes far beyond the 360. Motorola has successfully sued Microsoft for patent infringement back in Germany, but a different Microsoft lawsuit against Motorola temporarily prevents them from a sales ban there. The reason behind the majority of the suits lie with Motorola’s patents dealing with the H.264 codec for online video, which is a standard Microsoft says should be licensed on fair and reasonable terms. Microsoft has also won its import ban against 18 Android phones by Motorola in a separate infringement ruling by the HTC.
So this probably isn’t going to get resolved any time soon unless someone puts up a whole lot of cash and lawyers. The best outcome for consumers would be a cross-licensing agreement that allows the 360 and Motorola phones to co-exist. But Microsoft is already getting patent ransoms from other Android phone makers, and probably won’t let Motorola get off the hook that easily.
Especially since it’s now owned by Google.