It’s not often that Congress argues in favor of video game consoles, but it appears all bets are off when the issue is patents.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both parties have been writing letters to the International Trade Commission, siding with Microsoft and others in the tech industry on the issue of standard-essential patents, and asking the ITC to stop short of banning Xbox 360 imports in an ongoing patent dispute with Motorola.

In a series of disputes in the U.S. and abroad, Microsoft contends that Motorola is seeking unreasonable royalties for the use of patented technologies that Motorola agreed to license on fair and reasonable terms. The suits have taken on added significance following Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, pitting Microsoft vs. Google.

Florian Mueller of the FOSS Patents blog has the full text of the letters from high-profile legislators including Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Rep. Darrell Issa, a member of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Conyers, the committee’s ranking member; and members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation.

The letters follow a similar statement from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last week.

“An exclusion order based on alleged infringement of Standard Essential Patents creates a dangerous precedent that can harm innovation and the American economy,” writes Issa in his letter. In this particular case, he noted, excluding the the Xbox 360 would also “eliminate the only U.S. based videogame console from a market.”

An ITC administrative law judge ruled previously that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 violates four Motorola patents and recommended a ban on the import of Xbox 360s as long as they continue to infringe those patents.

“It has not been alleged or shown that Sony or Nintendo would fail to meet the demand for consumer video gaming consoles in the event that an exclusion order [was] issued,” wrote the judge,┬áDavid Shaw, at the time.

Legislators from Motorola’s home state of Illinois have also weighed in on the issue, asking the ITC to come down on the side of “vigorous” intellectual property protection.

In a blog post last week, Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard wrote that the system depends on the promises that companies make to standards bodies, “and when companies break them, the system breaks down. Costs go up and popular technology products become less available. This harms both the companies that build products implementing those standards and consumers who depend on those products.”

Update: Ars Technica notes that Apple, embroiled in its own patent dispute with Motorola, also has written a letter supporting Microsoft’s position in the case.

Comments

  • Guest

    Motorola and Google really jumped the shark on this one.

  • Guest

    Motorola/Google, banning Xbox 360 won’t make people buy those awful Google TV boxes. Please stand down.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X2JLTJL4QNXTG4W7AV6E2NEW4E Black First Name

    They should be banned, they stole another technology, no matter ho you look at it, MSFT should pay the royalties, which it is refusing, SO they SHOULD be blocked from shipping this stolen technology. All they have to do is pay up like everybody else.

    Yet, they would rather pay politicians during an election year, to have them lobby. When in fact politicians how NO say in the matter. Their opinion does NOT matter, cause they no nothing what an xbox is, just what the greenback looks like.

    Dirty typical politics, using MONEY to pay politicians to get your way when you have done wrong. Our country resembles this everyday, so I expect nothing less.

    MSFT stole the technology, period.

    • Guest

      Time to get your medication dosage upped again.

    • Williamkerrey61987

      Maybe you haven’t looked into this topic very much but do you understand what FRAND is? It basically means by Motorola taking on these patents that it is under reasonable terms due to the fact that it is an industry standard now. It’s obvious that you don’t know what that means… Go comment on another forum.

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