Microsoft Corp won a federal trade ruling that will force Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc to alter software on some of its Android-based mobile phones to keep bringing them into the US.
A US International Trade Commission judge found that Motorola Mobility infringed a patent covering a program by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft called ActiveSync, which lets users generate meeting requests among a group. Six other patents were not violated, the judge ruled.
The ruling must still be reviewed by US President Barack Obama, who can override the order on public policy grounds.
“We hope that now Motorola will be willing to join the vast majority of Android device makers selling phones in the US. by taking a license to our patents,” Microsoft’s deputy general counsel David Howard said in an e-mailed statement.
An exclusion order would affect Droid 2, Droid X, i1, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip, Charm and Clip models, according to a filing with the International Trade Commission.
Motorola Mobility said it was disappointed and would explore options including an appeal.
“Motorola Mobility will not experience any impact in the near term,” a company spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said in an e-mail.
The ruling probably will push Motorola to reach a settlement and pay Microsoft a licensing fee instead of having to modify the phone software, said Charlie Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Co in New York.
“These cases usually end up with the parties settling,” Wolf said.
The case is part of a broader effort by Microsoft and Apple Inc to curtail the growth of mobile devices that run on Google Inc’s Android operating system. Google licenses Android for free to further its mobile-advertising business.
The platform has become the most popular for smartphones, with more than half of a market for mobile devices that Yankee Group has projected will reach US$360 billion this year.
Microsoft contends it should be paid royalties by makers of mobile devices that run on Android. The software maker has reached licensing deals with Samsung Electronics Co and HTC Corp (宏達電).
Motorola Mobility, which is being bought by Google, refused to pay and instead struck back in a case at the trade agency.
Microsoft’s willingness to license is different from Apple, which wants makers of Android smartphones to make changes to its devices, Wolf said.