Print 26 comment(s) - last by Smilin.. on Jun 18 at 3:23 PM

Eight Congressmen wrote a letter to the ITC opposing the Xbox 360 ban

A group of Congressmen wrote a letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) in opposition of an import ban against Microsoft's Xbox 360 console.

Congress members Dave Reichert, Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott, Doc Hastings, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Jaime Herrera Beutler signed the letter, which urged the ITC to think twice about the Xbox 360 ban.

The letter was prompted by an ITC investigation into Motorola Mobility's patent infringement claims against Microsoft. As a result, ITC administrative law Judge David Shaw has recommended that the Xbox 360 console should be banned. The issue is the H.264 codec, which Motorola has patents associated with the video codec.

However, the above-mentioned list of Congress members along with companies like Verizon and Nokia disagree with the ban. In the letter from Congress members, it said a ban on the Xbox 360 could threaten high-paying U.S. jobs as well as economic growth, since the Xbox 360 is one of the top gaming consoles in the U.S. at the moment.

In addition, the letter noted that an exclusion order could hurt third-party investments that provide products and services for the Xbox 360 and depend on its sales. Game developers, publishers and retailers mainly fall under this category.

U.S. consumers could stand to lose as well, according to the letter to ITC Chairman Deanna Okun. Without the Xbox 360, competition in the gaming industry could be stifled and lead to an increase in prices for game consoles and titles.

"For these reasons, we urge you to consider carefully the implications a negative ruling in this matter would have on our economy, consumers, industry and jobs in Washington State and throughout the country," said the letter.

Motorola had also sought to ban the Xbox 360 and Windows 7 OS in Germany last month.

The letter to the ITC can be found here.

Sources: Scribd, Scribd

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Now we know who can be bought...
By Beenthere on 6/13/2012 9:49:27 PM , Rating: 2
If Motorola's patent claims are legit then we know who can be bought.

RE: Now we know who can be bought...
By rxc13 on 6/13/2012 10:52:56 PM , Rating: 4
The problem is not about how the patents being legit or not. The problem is that Motorola is asking for an absurd amount compared to what the rest of the patent holders are charging.

RE: Now we know who can be bought...
By FITCamaro on 6/14/2012 7:54:49 AM , Rating: 2
But......but.......Microsoft are evilz!

By theapparition on 6/14/2012 9:30:59 AM , Rating: 4
In fairness, MS are bending Motorola over on patent licensing costs as well. This is Moto's shot-across-the-bow to renegotiate.

The situation is only going to get worse in 2013 when the first-to-file clause goes active. I think the solution is quite clear in that no more software patents should be granted (and possibly all current software patents invalidated).

By mcnabney on 6/14/2012 10:14:32 AM , Rating: 2
Motorola is still pissed about getting tricked into paying MS $10-20 per device based upon worthless patents.

Remember, MS threatened Motorola with patents that they wouldn't disclose the identity of until after a settlement. When they found out the patents are worthless I can't blame them for not giving MS an inch in negotiations over these patents.

RE: Now we know who can be bought...
By Theoz on 6/14/2012 10:33:52 AM , Rating: 5
Agree, but that's not the only problem. A complete ban because of use of a codec that is a minor feature of the device?

The problem here is that there is no ability to award damages in an ITC action. This is just bad law by congress. Congress needs to require that the ITC can't ban unless the plaintiff can satisfy the above four factor test.

In a normal court, the law is that the court uses a 4 factor test to determine whether to award a plaintiff a permanent injunction: (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction. This test does not apply at the ITC.

In my opinion, Motorola fails on factors 1-3. 1 - Motorola hasn't suffered an irreparable injury since they don't compete in the game console market; 2 - money (damagers) can clearly compensate Motorola; 3 - Motorola doesn't compete in the game console market so how is there any hardship to Motorola?

Again, congress needs to change the law here to avoid these ridiculous ban orders by the ITC and force these companies to go through the regular court system where damages is an option, or at least force the ITC to apply the four factor test before banning a product.

RE: Now we know who can be bought...
By MZperX on 6/14/2012 12:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
Great post. I would submit that they also fail on point 4., that is the permanent injunction would not serve the public interest (as in causing economic harm, lost jobs, etc.)

A subtle threat might not hurt either
By Targon on 6/13/2012 7:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
Considering all these actions by the ITC over the past few years, the USA might stand to benefit by pushing actions against foreign companies to block THEIR products. While many of these companies might not care about the USA as a market, similar actions HERE to what the ITC keeps doing would be a good case of turnabout is fair play.

RE: A subtle threat might not hurt either
By kleinma on 6/13/2012 8:46:54 PM , Rating: 4
Not sure I follow you, which foreign company needs their products banned? Motorola (Chicago, IL), now owned by Google (Mountain View, CA), or Microsoft (Seattle, WA).

RE: A subtle threat might not hurt either
By encia on 6/13/2012 9:21:30 PM , Rating: 3
Linux in Google's Android says Hi.

By Samus on 6/14/2012 1:14:03 AM , Rating: 2
At least these congressmen realize that patent lawsuits cause economic harm...maybe the rest of the government will realize this and overhaul the patent office to stop this ridiculous damage to the growth of technology.

H.264 is a monopoly
By Tujan on 6/14/2012 10:32:06 AM , Rating: 2
"he issue is the H.264 codec, which Motorola has patents associated with"

Most every Internet format for video is taken via the H.264 codec in some way. There are hundreds of holders for the patent to the H.264 codec. Every thing from broadcasting FM,to transcoding/and encoding a home made video for personal use.

Trouble with the situation is that being a Patent,patent holders utilize a 'liscence'by device practice in their vetting.

These congress men are actually out of their own league. And the communications cos. will have to work through their own problems.

For me as a computer user,I see H.264 as a monopoly in and of itself. Since it is the only usable codec being in an 'device centric environment'. Where H.264 decides where and when you me,or any one else can utilize visual communications.

Its cushy for the patent holders. And the codec itself is a some what software program. But distinguishing the device centric problem from the video solution is a difficult one when H.264 is a monopoly in most corners seen these days.

RE: H.264 is a monopoly
By Floorbit on 6/14/2012 10:38:37 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with Tujan.

RE: H.264 is a monopoly
By Floorbit on 6/14/2012 11:01:43 AM , Rating: 2
Besides using a codec for the Xbox,could probably be installed by the user of the device. Situation being Motorola would have to have it to offer individual owners of a device,. This is different from having the codec available only to vendors.

See a good post up there about actual process of initiating the patent action. Dont see how complaining to the ITC does anything in a process centric relationship of proceedings. As if the congress men are being witnesses or something.

RE: H.264 is a monopoly
By NellyFromMA on 6/14/2012 3:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I don't understand how the success of a codec and the failure for a comptetitor to rise up and compete with it then qualifies it as a monopoly?

It's almost like, hey, go out there and do good, just not TOO good. Kind of weird.

And yes, I know what a monopoly is in terms of business and companies, but it doesn't seem appropriate here.

RE: H.264 is a monopoly
By Smilin on 6/18/2012 1:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think what he's getting at is "industry standard". Basically what we've got with this codec is a "monopoloy" that everyone in the industry agreed to allow beforehand.

As you can imagine a monopoly of these sorts would be horrible for the consumer. All parties also know this. So to avoid such horrors they agree that all will be allowed to license this technology. Only after such an agreement is the monopoloy then allowed to go forward.

What motorola is doing here is now exactly the opposite of that agreement: They are taking the agreed upon monopoly and abusing it to the detriment of consumers.

h.264 has almost three thousand patents related to it. Microsoft licenses a couple thousand of these from a group of 20-30 companies for a couple pennies. Now Motorola wants like 20 bucks for just 50 of the thousands of patents.

It's ludicrous and motorola knows good and well Microsoft won't accept it. They just want to get some leverage against Microsoft in some other disput that involves patents that are *not* industry standard ones.

The only reason there is such huge debate about this is because it involves "big bad microsoft" know the guys that repeatedly settle out of court for infringments that they are under no obligation to allow at all. MS has been taking the high road for a long time now (since their once dark past). I wonder when anyone is going to wake up and give them props?

Why now?
By FITCamaro on 6/14/2012 7:56:40 AM , Rating: 2
The 360 has supported H.264 for the past 5 years. It was only out for about a year before the codec pack came out. Newer ones probably didn't even need it. Why the suit now?

RE: Why now?
By Shadowself on 6/14/2012 9:24:37 AM , Rating: 3
Because Google, which now owns Moto Mobility, and Microsoft are locked in patents battles on other platforms (e.g., Android), and Google sees this as leverage to get Microsoft to stop asking for significant royalties from not only Google itself but also the handset makers.

It's both a "tit for tat" thing and an attempt to get Microsoft to that table to discuss cross licensing more patents across the board.

RE: Why now?
By sviola on 6/14/2012 10:15:03 AM , Rating: 2
Motorola was suing MS before Google bought them. And it started because MS threaten to sue them if they did not license their IP like the other Android OEMs.

RE: Why now?
By NellyFromMA on 6/14/2012 3:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
You were down voted for telling the truth incase you were wondering

By sprockkets on 6/13/2012 9:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
However, the above-mentioned list of Congress members along with companies like Verizon and Nokia disagree with the ban. In the letter from Congress members, it said a ban on the Xbox 360 could threaten high-paying U.S. jobs as well as economic growth, since the Xbox 360 is one of the top gaming consoles in the U.S. at the moment.

Really? Nokia 2 years ago sued apple over wireless technology, stuff part of you know, standards in use like GSM.

In other words, FRAND.

RE: right
By rxc13 on 6/13/12, Rating: 0
RE: right
By sprockkets on 6/13/2012 11:38:08 PM , Rating: 1
Because Apple thought it could get away without paying for that technology while everyone else was paying already.

You don't know that. The case never was decided in court, and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Apple's reaction to the lawsuit on 3G patents was the exact same as Microsoft's: We aren't going to pay 3x-5x more for the same patents due to basing the royalty off the final value of the phone instead of the component used.

And apple's argument against Moto is they already paid royalties since the chips used were already licensed.

A bunch of reps from Washington State oppose this?
By cterrel on 6/14/2012 2:14:26 AM , Rating: 1
Shocking news! I guess that's their job and stuff. Kind of like Representatives in the Midwest protecting farm subsidies and Reps in California protecting the RIAA

By Smilin on 6/18/2012 3:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
It seems you've discovered what the word "representative" means. Was there some other point?

FRAND patents, idiots.
By osserc on 6/14/2012 2:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
There is so much stupid flying around here these days it's amazing.

What Moto is doing is technically ILLEGAL. MS was already paying licensing fees for Moto's patents, along with all of the other FRAND patents in use in MS software/hardware. Moto decided they wanted to charge about 1000x more for their 4 patents then the holders of the other thousands of FRAND patents combined.

When a company agrees to make a patent a part of FRAND they are rewarded because that normally means their patent becomes part of industry standards. In turn, however, they are legally bound to offer the patent for exceptionally low, fair prices. IE, fractions of pennies per device. Every single FRAND patent holder is abiding by this, and Moto was too until just recently. Then they decided they wanted 2.25% of the final cost per device for their 4 patents... breaking the FRAND agreement.

Regardless of how you feel about MS, Moto is the bad guy here. Which is why every single major OEM on the planet is backing MS, including Apple.

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