December 21, 2011 12:57 am

Motorola found to infringe Microsoft phone patent

The patent wars over Google’s Android smartphone operating system have taken a new twist as a US International Trade Commission judge held that Motorola Mobility infringed only one of seven patents that Microsoft alleged had been violated.

The Android handset maker, which is in the process of being acquired by Google, said it was pleased the majority of the findings were favourable to it and the judge may have clarified what Motorola Mobility has to do to avoid infringing the remaining patent in the US market.

The judge’s determination will be reviewed by an ITC panel, which on Monday made a final ruling that another Android handset maker, Taiwan’s HTC, had infringed only one of 10 Apple patents.

Google has become the target of patent cases as Android has grown into the operating system of choice for more than half the smartphone market in the US.

Microsoft said in a statement it was pleased the ITC judge had found Motorola Mobility violated one of its patents and intimated that the handset maker should have agreed to a licensing arrangement.

“As Samsung, HTC, Acer and other companies have recognised, respecting other’s intellectual property through licensing is the right path forward,” said David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel.

Interactive graphic: Smartphone patent wars

Patent Wars

Patent wars are raging in the smartphone industry. What began as Apple v Google Android conflict has turned into a vast legal quagmire involving everyone from Amazon to ZTE.

The infringing patent concerns a feature in smartphones allowing users to arrange meetings by using contact’s email addresses and synchronise their calendars across different devices.

Motorola Mobility alleged in a statement that Microsoft continued to infringe its own substantial patent portfolio. It has launched litigation in a number of jurisdictions.

The ITC has the power to block imports of smartphones that violate patents and its full panel should give a final ruling by April 20 next year.

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