Both Sides Claim Victory In Microsoft-Motorola Patent Dispute At ITC


The aftermath of a modern patent ruling looks more and more like the spin room following a presidential debate, a place where everyone believes their candidate was a winner and claims to be delighted with his or her prospects. Such was the case following yet another ruling Tuesday from the International Trade Commission involving mobile patents, this time with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Motorola (NYSE: MMI) on opposite sides of the room.

Microsoft struck first following the ITC’s ruling, which is always a good strategy. “ITC finds Motorola #patent infringment (sic) in #Microsoft case. Another indication that licensing is the best path for the industry,” tweeted Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, in announcing the preliminary decision of the ITC that Motorola infringed on a Microsoft patent with its Android phones.

But not so fast, said Motorola’s general counsel, Scott Offer, noting that of the seven patents Microsoft asserted before the ITC only one was deemed to have been violated by Motorola’s products.

“We view it as a huge win for us,” Offer said in an interview with AllThingsD. “They had originally nine patents in their first case. They are down to one patent effectively.”

Until Florian Mueller tells everyone why Motorola and Android are still doomed and why Microsoft will still eventually prevail, we’ll just note that the ITC’s ruling could indeed be a problem for Motorola but it is subject to another hearing before the full commission before an injunction could be imposed against Motorola phones sold in the U.S. Microsoft and Motorola are also suing each other in federal court over claims of patent infringement, as Motorola is one of the few Android vendors that haven’t signed a licensing deal with the company.

The Microsoft-Motorola ruling comes on the heels of another ruling yesterday that HTC infringed on a patent held by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in what was considered only a partial victory for the company that has sworn to destroy Android, as only one patent out of four was deemed to cover portions of HTC’s handsets. HTC immediately pledged to release a workaround for that patent.

I’s not clear if Motorola will be able to do something similar should it not manage to prevail in subsequent rulings or on appeal, although the company said in a statement that believes the initial ruling will clarify the definition of the one patent on which it was said to infringe.

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