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Appeals Court Affirms Microsoft's Claim Against Android

Motorola Mobility LLC today lost an appeal regarding an intellectual property dispute with Microsoft over the Android operating system.

The decision (PDF) by a three-judge U.S. federal appeals court affirms earlier rulings by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) concerning a single Microsoft patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566. The patent describes a meeting-request scheduler for use on mobile devices. Last year, the ITC barred U.S. imports of Android-based Motorola Mobility devices that allegedly used the technology. In July of this year, Microsoft sued the U.S. government, claiming that the ban wasn't being enforced.

In any case, today's 12-page decision by the appellate court simply affirmed the patent violation by Motorola Mobility. It stated that Motorola Mobility failed in its appeals-court claims, specifically in its contention that Microsoft's patent used "prior art." For instance, Motorola Mobility had claimed that the patent used synchronization technology already found in the Apple Newton MessagePad.

The court's decision is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes associated with the so-called "mobile platform wars." The Google-fostered and Linux-based Android OS has been a clear market leader in that segment, holding 81 percent of the market per third-quarter IDC stats, followed by iOS at 12.9 percent and Windows Phone at 3.6 percent. Motorola Mobility was purchased by Google in May of 2012, largely to bulk up its intellectual property collection for legal defensive purposes. The Google-owned company has been one of the few to resist Microsoft's persistent legal attacks on Android.

Motorola Mobility could face paying Microsoft to license the technology or it may have to switch to using some alternative technology or both. The company was compelled to float a bond of $0.33 per device during the ITC courts' review process, so some of the money presumably is already held in trust.

The legal battle between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility is also playing out overseas. Earlier this month, a German court invalidated a Microsoft patent concerned with its File Allocation Table (FAT) technology used for short and long file names, according to a PCWorld report. Microsoft had earlier gained an injunction against Motorola Mobility smartphones that were alleged to have used the FAT technology.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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