Microsoft sues U.S. Customs for letting disputed Motorola phones into the country

msmotorolaMicrosoft has sued the United States Customs and Border Patrol for failing to enforce an import restriction on Motorola Mobility phones that the International Trade Commission ruled were infringing on one of Microsoft’s patents.

The patent in question is number 6370566, entitled “Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device.” Microsoft claims that the calendar functionality in Motorola’s Android phones infringes on that patent.

The company is claiming that the Customs and Border Patrol continues to allow Motorola Mobility, which is now owned by Google, to import devices into the United States that continue to use the same feature that the ITC ruled was infringing on Microsoft’s patent. Microsoft says the Customs decision followed secret meetings with Motorola representatives.

“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,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Howard said in a statement.

The import restriction was put in place in 2012, and has not been enforced, according to the complaint. Microsoft says that turning to the courts is, in its view, the only way to get CBP to enforce the exclusion order.

The only conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from CBP’s pattern of conduct is that CBP will not enforce the Commission’s exclusion order absent a court order compelling it to do so. CBP has repeatedly allowed Motorola to evade that order based on secret presentations that CBP has refused to share with Microsoft. Microsoft has repeatedly explained that CBP’s stated reasons for not enforcing the exclusion order are legally mistaken, only to confront new theories and claims that CBP has adopted (apparently after further secret discussions) to justify its continuing refusal to enforce the exclusion order. Microsoft’s efforts to resolve this impasse through means other than litigation have come to naught. With its recent, and demonstrably flawed, June 24 refusal to bar importation of infringing Motorola devices, CBP has left Microsoft no choice but to bring this action.

The restriction is slated to remain in place until the expiration of the patent in 2018.

UPDATE (7:41 PM): Google has issued a statement regarding the suit that reads: “U.S. Customs appropriately rejected Microsoft’s effort to broaden its patent claims to block Americans from using a wide range of legitimate calendar functions, like scheduling meetings, on their mobile phones. We’re confident that the court will agree.”

Previously on GeekWire: ITC sides with Microsoft, says Xbox 360 did not infringe on Motorola patentsJudge: Microsoft owes Google a small fraction of Motorola patent demands

  • Guest

    Don’t love patent litigation. But having won the ban, MS seems to have a valid concern if US Customs is refusing to enforce it.

  • panacheart

    It’s hard to believe the patent office even allows this crap. The patent describes the process for making a meeting request to another device on an digital calendar, which is about as obvious as can be, even in 1998 when the patent was filed.

    • Guest

      Do you ever tire of making a fool of yourself?

      • panacheart

        Look below to acrompan’s comment. It’s coherent, and offers an interesting and enlightening rebuttal to my comment. You, on the other hand, just continue to be an asshole, which adds nothing of value here. Do you ever tire of being an asshole?

        • Guest

          Enlightened rebuttal to your comment? It shreds your comment and exposes you for the ignorant know-it-all and knee-jerk MS hating jackass that you are.

          • panacheart

            No, it provides another perspective. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s a good perspective. It’s on topic and describes why he thinks the patent is valid.

            You on the other hand keep on being a troll and adding absolutely nothing.

  • arcompan

    This patent was a breakthrough in wireless data synchronization. Prior to this invention the entire database of information had to be be synchronised over the wireless connection, the whole calendar database, the whole contact database, the whole email database. Each item had to be checked one by one.
    This invention made it possible to synchronise individual data object (datagrams), so only the objects which were being changed had to be synchronised, which improves speed many times faster and allows individual data checking accuracy of each object.
    Android developers saw this invention and copied it. too bad they didn’t come up with a more cleaver method.

    The painful part about this is microsoft $5-8 million dollars and won in federal court patent suit, then won again at ITC ruling. Now customs won’t enforce it as they should. This patent was made by Americans, in America (redmond), for Americans.
    Android is trying to steal American made technology.

    • panacheart

      Interesting input. Thanks.