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Ruling could "gimp" Motorola's Android calendar application

Motorola Mobility -- a new subsidiary of Google Inc. (GOOG), pending some final approvals in certain regions (e.g. the European Union) -- is one of the few Android phonemakers to stand up and fight against Microsoft's licensing demands.  Google has waged a highly public battle against Microsoft's patent licensing demands, which could force it to pay $15 or more per device.

The first phase of Motorola/Google's battle with Microsoft has wrapped up with a very small victory for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

The administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding over the case at the U.S. International Trade Commission dismissed six of Microsoft's seven infringement claims.  The sole claim confirmed comes in the form of U.S. Patent 6,370,566, which claims the invention of "the ability to schedule a meeting request from the mobile device itself".  The patent goes on to describe a special data field that identifies whether a request has already been transmitted.  Rebroadcast events change this flag, allowing duplicates to be quickly filtered out and ignored.

Android meetings
The infringing feature in Android... [Image Source: Microsoft via Engadget]

(Read here for a full description of the patents Microsoft used in the case, with informative pictures showing where some of them pop up in Android features.)

Now for phonemakers like HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930), who already license from Microsoft [1][2], this ruling does not significantly effect them.  But for for Google and Motorola the situation gets interesting as they must figure out a way to preserve meeting scheduling -- a critical smartphone functionality -- whilst escaping infringment of the Microsoft IP.

In other words, the situation could be far worse for Motorola, but the ruling could still be  a blow to the quality of Motorola's Android distribution, forcing it to either license or remove a key feature.

Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Brad Smith first broke the news of Microsoft's victory on Twitter, writing:

ITC finds Motorola #patent infringment in #Microsoft case. Another indication that licensing is the best path for the industry.

Motorola/Google and Microsoft will meet again in court on April 20, 2012 when a full ITC panel will deliver its final determination on the infringement claims. Motorola/ Google currently have a counter-complaint filed against Microsoft.  Writes Motorola in a press release:

Microsoft continues to infringe Motorola Mobility’s substantial patent portfolio and Motorola Mobility has active patent infringement litigation and proceedings against Microsoft in a number of jurisdictions, including the ITC. Motorola Mobility remains confident in its position and will continue to move forward with its complaints.

Reportedly, Microsoft now makes more money off of licensing its patents to Android phonemakers than it does selling operating system licenses for its own Windows Phone smartphones.

Sources: Brad Smith (Twitter), Motorola, Google Patents



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RE: Palm
By mcnabney on 12/22/2011 9:45:31 AM , Rating: 5
The whole idea is stupid. Functions like this shouldn't be patentable at all. A mobile device is just a flipping computer. Why does the size matter?
Everybody read about IBM predicting 'mind control' being a future tech ability? Does that mean we should all rush out a patent every possible computer function "by way of mind control"?
"Moving cursor by mind control"
"Predictive text by mind control"
"Controlling a digital avatar by mind control"

All these patents do is keep the big corportions rich (the ones with the patent portfolios) and the small companies helpless to compete since they will not be able to acquire the meaningless patents and the armies of lawyers to wield them.


RE: Palm
By Ramstark on 12/22/2011 12:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
Patenting those terms right now...:D


RE: Palm
By NellyFromMA on 12/22/2011 12:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
Compare what you're saying to the automobile industry, or virtually any other industry and tell me the peices that are patented to make the sum of the product aren't patentable in those scenarios either and then maybe this will make sense.

It seems natural to you because you are savvy enough. You have basic understandings (at least) of the principles of the matter at hand.

A mechanic might say the same thing in his area of profession but just because it might 'click' in your head hardly means it didn't take time and effort to implement their own solution.

That's life. The main difference here is cars and their parts aren't open source; you can't just copy and paste someones care and have another car. They are made with finite resources and are actual material objects. That hardly means someone else should lose out on their hard earned investment because it can be copied and proliferated with such ease.

-_-


RE: Palm
By fic2 on 12/22/2011 2:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, but to be patentable it is supposed to be non-obvious to someone skilled in the area.

Unfortunately it seems that patent examiners are not skilled in any areas including their own jobs.


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