ITC commission unlikely to enforce US Xbox 360 ban

Public interest should override recommendation, says Florian Mueller

Judge David Shaw's recommendation to the ITC Commission that the import of 4gb and 250gb Xbox slim models to the US should be banned is unlikely to be enforced, says patent expert Florian Mueller.

The judge made the decision to recommend an import ban to the ITC Commission yesterday, ruling in a case between Microsoft and the Google-owned Motorolla which has the Redmond manufacturer defending itself against four counts of patent infringement.

Motorola, on the other hand, stands accused of not offering what are seen as essential patents for use by other companies under fair terms, violating the FRAND agreement by asking for an excessive share of profits.

Whilst Shaw has effectively ruled against Microsoft here, the actual outcome of the case rests heavily on two parallel cases in Europe which will establish whether Motorolla has operated within the terms of FRAND policy.

Nonetheless, even this judgment will be evaluated in the light of its potential effects on other businesses and the public.

"I've never seen an ITC judge make any other recommendation than an exclusion order if his initial determination is that there is a violation," says Mueller. "This is the normal course of business.

"Unlike judges at courts, ITC judges don't make the decisions: they merely recommend them. Their recommendations are very frequently not adopted by the Commission, the six-member decision-making body at the top of the ITC. Not only does the Commission overrule those judges with respect to the actual violations but the Commission also has the final say on remedies."

"The more Xbox games makers write to the ITC about this, the less likely an import ban will be"

Florian Mueller, Foss Patents

Mueller, who runs tech patent blog Foss Patents, also told GamesIndustry International that developers and publishers are likely to petition the US administration to overturn the ruling.

"Even if the Commission agreed with the judge on some or all of the violations, there are public interest considerations for which an exclusion order should not be entered, or at least not before or during the Christmas Selling Season. The more Xbox games makers write to the ITC about this, the less likely an import ban will be.  

"If many games makes write to the ITC, then I doubt that there will be ever be an actual Xbox import ban. What's more likely to happen is that a federal court in Microsoft's home state of Washington will set the terms of a license agreement that Motorola and Microsoft will have to enter into. As a result, Microsoft will be licensed and the Xbox won't be an infringing product."

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Latest comments (9)

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 10 years ago
Well, if Public interest should override decissions like this, then there shouldn't be a ban on ANY Product.. But then again, MS just doesn't want to pay the same for the patents as any other company has to when they want to use them.
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Emily Rose Artist 10 years ago
Hard to make a judgement without the numbers, and what "excessive share of profits" means.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
As if there was the threat of a communist revolution, if people could not buy an Xbox for a week.
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Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News10 years ago
"But then again, MS just doesn't want to pay the same for the patents as any other company has to when they want to use them."

That's exactly what they want to pay - their point is that Motorola's demands don't comply with FRAND requirements.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
Yeah I really can't make too strong a comment one way or another without knowing whether these patents are indeed in violation of FRAND or not. If they aren't, then Microsoft needs to pay up. If they are, Motorola needs to offer cheaper terms. Not a lot to say on who's in the wrong on this yet, other than I'm getting tired of patent wars in general.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
I actually cannot recall the last an ITC judge recommended a product ban.

Many times I've heard a product ban being requested by the plaintiff but it is usually the ITC judge that shoots down the request.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 10 years ago
It was Microsoft who started all of this. Motorola's complaint, filed in November 2010, was basically a response to the ITC complaint Microsoft filed against Motorola in October 2010. (The complaint was regarding the alleged violation of nine MS patents in the Droid and other phones.)
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Paul Shirley Programmers 10 years ago
If Florian Mueller predicts no ban, that's a guarantee there will be a ban. He's pretty consistently wrong, right now he's desperately trying to spin his way out of yesterdays Oracle vs Google result, one he completely got wrong.

Also remember: he's paid by Microsoft (and Oracle). It's a paid opinion folks, take it with a truck load of salt.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 24th May 2012 2:18pm

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
While I agree Florian Mueller isn't a good source, Paul, he's not likely wrong on this. The ITC will consider it a violation of public interest to remove a major competitor in the games industry. Keep in mind this wouldn't just severely damage Microsoft, but all the publishers and developers making 360 and Kinect games right now. Obviously that's a pretty powerful reason to avoid a ban. The economic consequences could be huge.
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