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
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.