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Microsoft sues US Customs for refusing to support Google smartphone ban

Microsoft has accused US Customs officials of refusing to adhere to the ITC's (International Trade Commission) order to block import mobile phones manufactured by Motorola, owned by Google. The ITC issued the import ban back in May 2012 after it was concluded that Motorola hardware infringed a Microsoft patent for synchronising calendar events with other computers.

Redmond complains that US Customs and Border Protection have had secret meetings with the search giant, continuing to allow Motorola mobile phones to enter the country even though Google hasn't addressed the original patent filing. Microsoft's deputy general counsel David Howard said in a statement, "Customs has a clear responsibility to carry out ITC decisions, which are reached after a full trial and rigorous legal review. Here Customs repeatedly ignored its obligation and did so based on secret discussions."

Google states that US Customs appropriately rejected Microsoft's patent claims to block Americans effectively utilising calendar functionality on mobile phones. That said, Microsoft's patent expires in April 2018. An appeal in the case is scheduled to be heard on August 6th in Washington. The ITC's role is to protect US markets from unfair competition, including the infringement of patents, but we've seen in the past how this is essentially a battleground between mobile phone manufacturers and software vendors. Google and Microsoft, along with Apple have been battling one another repeatedly.

Robert Stoll of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in Washington, notes that "They want to focus their efforts on terrorism, and the issues related to intellectual property is not their concern." It'll be interesting to see how this develops, if anything is to come out of the situation. We've previously looked at the Google and Microsoft lifestyle - a match made in heaven, but we're sure consumers are growing tired of reading about the same brands locking in arms. One thing's for certain: this isn't over.

Source: Bloomberg; thanks, pbroy, for the heads up!

Rich Edmonds is a word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

78 Comments
  • Get 'em
  • +820
  • Why not do the right thing that's not fair for one company to get a pass no matter what company it is.
  • ???
  • Say what?
  • (Achievement) You have successfully blown a couple of minds. http://i.imgur.com/T4BrSwO.gif
  • That almost BSODed my Lymia 620..
  • I had to do a reboot of my mind after that sentence and because of that, I lost all my latest thoughts. Thanks for that, buddy!
  • "Why not do the right thing? That's not fair for one company to get a pass, no matter what company it is."
  • Aaaaahhh...now it makes sense.
  • Thanks for ruining it for everyone... :P
  • I was reading this as well and don't understand why companies can get away with smuggling in "illegal" goods, but I get hounded at the airport for bringing too many bottles of alcohol in my checked in luggage.
  • When you travel into america already a bread with a slice of meat is a problem :) 
  • The US customs attitude is unacceptable. Do they to the same with drugs?
  • I would say boo but they play the same dirty legal tricks. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
  • Thank you for the one rational comment. I'm shocked at some of the comments I read.
  • They want to focus on terrorism and intellectual property is not a concern? But what if Motorola phones are going to the terrorists??? The bastards never thought of that!!
  • Why uncle scroogle always want to bend everyone over and roger them up their hole This makes me so sad.
  • That whole "Scroogled" thing is quite humorous in light of the recent Snowden leaks. Why do you think Microsoft is so much different than any other corporate entity? This entire concept of your information being given to others is way overblown and misrepresented, if you ask me--but you didn't, so I'll be quiet now. :-)
    Full disclosure: I am a fan of Google's stuff, yet I have no problem with Microsoft (at all).
  • You are confusing the purpose of it. Scroogled is when Google SELLS your information. Microsoft was subpoenaed and had to give their info over. Microsoft doesn't sell your information to others like Google.
  • No, I'm actually not. I'm strictly speaking about the general concept of sharing your info with anyone. And Google doesn't *sell* your info to anybody. They provide a *service* to both advertisers and users, which allows the (inevitable) serving of advertisements to make sense for both parties. It's done automatically (and anonymously), so it's not as if a human-being at Google is calling advertisers and saying "Hey I've got so and so's information, here you go". They're doing what any sensible advertising business does by serving relevant ads to the right people. It's also a service that Google allows people to opt out of.
    I'm making this point because you act like Microsoft safeguards your information with all it's power, and Google is just handing it out to everybody. If we're to believe Snowden (and many things have already been confirmed true), Microsoft bent over backwards to make user information easily available. The government has much greater power/ability to f*** up your life than some business trying to get their name and products out there does. They want to sell to you, not incriminate you.
    But I know that it's much more fun to believe it your way. Find me any proof of Google selling real, personal information to advertisers (as opposed to the truth--where you are anonymously identified...and by machines, not scrutinizing human-beings), and I'll admit I'm wrong about that.
    But my general point stands-- your info is no more safe with one company than the other. It made for a funny (yet deceptive) campaign though.
  • google will read your e-mail content & present you with relevent adds, if get an e-mail with my flight ticket information i see an advertisement for travel related sites, if i am using outlook.com this doesn't happen because MS doesn't read your e-mail, this is the difference.
  • You are right in that it is sort of disturbing that they don't even spare your email. However, your email is 'parsed' not read to be specific. No one is going through your personal files.
    Well except maybe the NSA....
    Which is a problem with pretty much any tech company and cloud provider.
  • "Google SELLS you information" Wow, looks like anything passes for facts these days. It does no such thing. 
    Advertisers see no profile of yours linked to personally identifiable information. They give a Google a profile of people to sell the ads to. Google has your interests/profiles in its database and matches them. Most data is stripped of personally identifiable information and you are just another # in their database. Advertisers do not know who you are, they cannot turn up at your house. Newsflash: This is how all companies work that are engaged in the ads space. Including MS. Google is just more successful at it.  
  • Wow. All this happening and im on my way to my wedding. What is this world coming to
  • Hah! Good to know I'm not a freak; I was checking WPCentral on my wedding day too ;)
  • WP Central is better than getting married, CONFIRMED. Daniel, time to change the slogan of the website:
    " Windows Phone Central, better than getting married"
  • Goodbye Motorola x-phone or what ever the name is.
  • Assembled in America means it doesn't have to be imported. The parts that are imported aren't manufacted by Motorola. Try harder next time.
  • Okay dude...take it easy...don't kill me
  • Finish him!
  • Armada wins....k.o...game over insert coin please
  • "One thing's for certain: this isn't over." Fantastic journalism there guys, bravo.
  • I read about this yesterday.. Whatever happens to the YouTube app??
  • Yeah, i was think the same thing when I had to download MetroTube. The YouTube app Google promised should have been out already...but as usual Google will be allowed to continue its anti-competitive business practices by withholding its products from MS mobile platform and filing complaints when MS releases its own version of the app being withheld. Can some one on Joe B's twitter list ask him about this?
  • Apple and Microsoft seem to have a more mature relationship as of late. Common competitor (i was going to say enemy)
    Cant believe im checking wpcentral on my holiday in Italy.
  • I don't think this is okay when Apple does it, so I can't say Microsoft is in the right here. Software patents should not be allowed. They're often too generic and can cover too many implementations. Microsoft is getting plenty of money from licensing fees that Android OEMs have to pay to begin with. I'd say the same thing if Google sued Microsoft over a software patent. Heck, I hate the game they're playing with YouTube and Google apps on Windows 8, WP8, and BB10. All this only hurts the consumer.
  • Yet you basically saying MS & Apple are wrong and mentioning how google is withholding key apps from MS only. You also left out the fact that Google also dropped its support of active sync, another product of MS in effort to force consumers to use Gmail on their devices instead of exchange. If this isn't anti-competitive and should require the DOJ's intervention, I don't know what is. As for patent fees paid to MS for andriod, google knew they were in violation, but knew the cost would fall on the manufacturers, talk about sticking it to someone, yet manufacturers are too dumb to stick it back to Google by equally promoting, supporting, and providing the same feature set they do in their android offerings. So if they have to pay MS, its because of their ignorance. Just like MS eased or waived the fees for HTC for making a premier WP (8X), they would do the same for other who made a real effort concerning WP. By the way I carry an HTC 8x and don't believe HTC is promoting it properly or giving it proper attention. This could be so much more main stream, its design is superior compared to any of their Android offerings period.
  • I've handled an HTC 8x. The build quality is great, but to say that it is superior to the One, is a bit of a stretch. That comment is subjective, at best.
  • Yeah, agreed. The 8X was 'inspired' by last years One X not this years One. Comparing the two is the same as comparing the One and the One X. Both great phones, but one (bad pun?) in a year ahead in styling terms and features.
  • Dude, where have you been? Under a rock??? The 8X design was inspire by the Nokia 800/900/920 period! Btw, the 8x is slimmer and sleeker than any of the above mentioned, but not packed with the tech and apps Nokia brings.
  • Are you kidding me? The only way that the 8X or 8S were inspired by any Lumia is in the choice to add colours in this generation. Compare the 8X and One X directly and ignore the colours. They aren't dissimilar phones.
  • He may be under a rock but you're purely delusional.
  • +1
  • Not gonna go back and forth on this, check any tech site including wpcentrals archives when the 8X was introduced and read what the majority of people said. It wasn't just on colors, they commented on both design and color being borrowed from Nokia or should I use their words, "stolen". Don't get me confused as someone who dislikes HTC as I'm a supporter. As stated, I currently carry an 8X and I had there first WP offered on VZW (TROPHY)
  • A quote from WP Central:
    "We do feel that the 8X is simply the One X body with a few cosmetic changes that runs Windows Phone 8." Next you'll be saying that the new Windows Phone HTC says will be based on the One will in fact have been a stolen Lumia design.
  • Microsoft is getting license fees from some OEMs, those don't include Motorola, which is why they sued them and got the import ban
  • I don't get how something like that can even be patented. A five year old could have came up with that idea. 
    5y/o: I wish my calendar events would show up across my computers.
    Techie: Done. Wasn't hard.
  • Both mine and my wife's sync between all our devices better than ever, computers, phones and surface.
  • To be fair, synchronization technology is much more complex than you're giving it credit for, but I sort of agree with your general sentiment.
  • For a Microsoft based news site, you're pretty slow reporting news about Microsoft.
  • Yes this is like 18 hrs old
  • I think all the 1020 hype has left other news unnoticed.
  • Nail these F'ers. If they get away with, Microsoft needs to go hog wold with patent infringments and outspend them all in court. Hack the hell out of DMR, crowbar into YouTube API, infringe on anything with an 'i' in front of it. If they go to the courts, laugh. This world is no longer about law. Its about outspending and is a free for all. Its absolutely out of control.
  • MS just needs to Game of Thrones Googles ass. :P
  • Thats the way Microsoft. Sue Google and Motorola.
    Since you can't beat Google in terms of quality services then only one way left - Sue them( Apple annoying Strategy)
  • Did you use "Google" and "quality" in the same sentence. LMFAO. I hope that was meant to be funnier, otherwise your just a complete ass.
  • I understand that this is Windows Phone Central, but to imply that Google doesn't make quality products, is laughable. The Maps app, for example, is top notch, especially here in the US.
    (And I do agree, that Google should start developing apps for Windows Phone.)
  • Yeah, these guys are extra delusional and sensitive here. They're a small minority, don't embarrass them anymore than they already are.
    ;-)
    Kidding, kidding...(mostly)
  • You can say anything of Google, except that they don't offer quality products & services.
  • If you goes with market share then
    Google Maps vs Bing Maps - Google wins
    Google Chrome vs. IE   - Google wins
    Google search vs. Bing - Google wins
    Android vs. Window Phonw - Google wins.
    Gmail vs. Hotmail - Googlw wins., etc.......
     
    Can you guys tell me any service which is provided by both and Google doesn't win.
    I think Google put Microsoft in shame when it's come to quality. So, come up with something better and tell me how Microsoft is better than Google if you compare both company services.
  • So your clowns' argument is that if someone says that Microsoft can't hang with the overrated Google in terms of quality....that's ok. But if we say that Google's quality isn't as high as you Google sniffers claim it is....watch out ....your panties get in a bunch. I'm so sorry to disagree with you over sensitive brand jock straps.
  • Are you having a laugh? I think you should read the article again -- too funny ha ha ha.
  • I've noticed WPC getting some news, like this, a lot later than other non WP/MS dedicated tech sites.. I would think that the biggest, most respected, most relied on, WP/MS community would have the scoop on more articles first.. But, I can understand that WPC reports more news overall, and does more reviews on phones, than anyone else, so resources might not enable the team to catch every little piece of WP/MS related news.. I'm just saying that this story is a day old.. Could it be that WPC spends more time getting the full scoop, and validating news❔
  • Yes. The difference is called journalism. It takes time to validate stories, make sure you're identifying related news and occurrences, but not seeing causations where there aren't any. Speed is only valuable if the reporting is also correct and reliable. WPC is the only WP site that gets this right. Please don't mistake speed for quality. When the masses start thinking that way, good journalism dies.
  • That question was for Rich.. Sorry, but I was hoping he had a less obvious answer... Lol❕.. Sorry.
  • I think this is the reason the x is being assembled in the USA
  • Google devil, Microsoft angle
  • Anyone who reads this and just thinks 'Someone's beating Google up again' is missing the bigger picture here. The US Customs Office has ignored a ITC request banning a product to enter their jurisdiction. Added to that, this appears to have happened directly as a result of secret meetings with Google. Whatever your opinion of Microsoft or Google, everyone must be concerned that a US government department is refusing to uphold the decision of a court of law, and in effect giving even the slightest chance that this could become a precedent for future events affecting multiple scenarios, e.g the police refuses to uphold a decision made by a court. As unlikely as that seems, there is a proper procedure to appeal a decision by a court, and just ignoring the decision isn't it.
  • This. +9000. I couldn't agree more. This could set a very dangerous precedent, a precedent that could spill into other lawsuits and/or industries. I'm a fan of Google and Motorola, but when they're wrong, they're wrong, and they're not above the law. 
  • Gotta love the U.S. government. "Sorry Microsoft, we're too busy focusing on more important laws right now to be adhering to that one." If I broke the law and said the same thing to them, that I was too busy keeping bigger laws to be troubled with the little ones, the government wouldn't have any of it.
  • You should show them that you mean business lol. Start smashing mouths, and tell the police that you were too busy trying to not download torrents or rob banks lol.
  • Not too much of a surprise I guess. Google is said to be paying off the developers of AdBlock Plus NOT to block google ads.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Google-Adblock-Plus-Whitelist,23408.html
    I expect there is plenty of shenanigans with google and other entities such as keeping Windows Phone 7 in a drawer rather than display them like any other phone they are selling.
     
  • Money and corruption must be.
  • It is opinion, but I've held both phone and prefer the 8x. The one looks better in the commercial than it does in person. IMO, after holding both, the 8X feels better to me. One another point, HTC promotes the One better than the 8X and also included better tech in the screen type, sound chip, memory, processor, and camera than on the 8x. What do people on this site whine about most? Onboard storage, screen quality, camera; so why not built WP equal to the Android offering at least?? WP users would buy it hands down! Why not work like Nokia does at getting develops to bring apps to WP. HTC us beating a dead horse with android because honestly there's not an Android manufacturer that can stop.the momentum Samsung has going with their Galaxy series offered on Android. I don't want to hear about the one's sales being great and them not being able to invest heavily int WP because of small market share as they've been loosing millions in Android for at least the last 3 years now and the One isn't going to save them.
  • What article did you mean to post to? This is an article about google/motorola and us customs This article is not about htc/nokia are for that matter wp
  • Can't US customs just do their jobs? And google seems to have forgotten its place.
  • Google in bed with Obama and vice versa, so he not going to let anything upset his buddies. ;-)