When it comes to legal action between smartphone companies, Samsung and Apple’s fight has been stealing the spotlight lately, but it’s far from the only conflict around. Motorola has found itself in Microsoft’s crosshairs for some time now, and a ruling from the United States International Trade Commission is set to enact a ban on Motorola Androids, beginning tomorrow. Even with the clock ticking away, Motorola seems remarkably nonplussed by the whole thing, and maintains that sales of its products will continue unabated. Just why is it so confident?
The issue at the heart of the complaint is yet another patent, this time dealing with Microsoft’s ActiveSync tech. Like so many other software patents, it’s incredibly vague-sounding (and more than a little obvious), covering “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device”.
The ban specifically names the Motorola Atrix, Backflip, Bravo, Charm, Cliq, Cliq 2, Cliq XT, Defy, Devour, Droid 2, Droid 2 Global, Droid Pro, Droid X, Droid X2, Flipout, Flipside, Spice, and Xoom. Sure, those are some pretty old Androids, but presumably the offending software is also present on the manufacturer’s more recent handsets, as well, and the ban extends even to those models not individually listed.
Motorola says that it “has taken proactive measures to ensure that our industry leading smartphones remain available to consumers in the US”, but doesn’t elaborate as to just what it has in mind. Could it pull a Google and prepare an update to strip existing models of infringing code? Time might be a little tight to get such a thing out before the ban takes effect. Another option is Motorola capitulating and simply licensing the relevant patent from Microsoft. For now, though, Microsoft claims no knowledge of Motorola’s plans. We might just have to wait until tomorrow to learn the details of Motorola’s secret way out of this mess.