The US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] on Friday concluded its investigation [notice, PDF] into a complaint that a number of Motorola mobile phones infringed on several Microsoft [corporate websites] patents. The decision affirmed the ruling of an administrative law judge in December that Microsoft had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Motorola had in fact violated one of the several patents allegedly infringed. The ITC order requires Motorola to stop importing and selling certain models of mobile phones and to pay to Microsoft "a reasonable royalty rate in the amount of $0.33 per device" already sold in the US. Microsoft originally filed the patent complaint against Motorola in 2010, alleging violations of the Tariff Act of 1930 "in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain mobile devices, associated software, and components thereof by reason of infringement of" several Microsoft patents. The ITC order was sent to President Obama and the US Trade Representative [official website] for review, and can be appealed in federal court. Motorola may also seek to acquire a license from Microsoft to distribute the products in the US.
Patent infringement cases among mobile phone distributors have been on the rise in recent years. In December the ITC ruled [JURIST report] for Apple on a patent complaint against HTC [corporate websites] for infringing its "data tapping" patents. In July the ITC ruled that HTC infringed two Apple patents [JURIST report] relating to the Android operating system. This ruling came days after Apple filed a complaint against Samsung [JURIST report] in an effort to bar importation of several of Samsung's smartphones and tablets. Apple claimed Samsung's "Galaxy" line copies its iPhone and iPad technology. This complaint came just weeks after Samsung filed a similar complaint [JURIST report] seeking to prevent Apple from importing iPads and iPhones. Samsung had claimed Apple violated five patents also related to smartphones and tablets.