Appeals court revives Microsoft claim against Google

Appeals court revives Microsoft claim against Google
The new Microsoft Surface tablet on display following a press conference at Pier 57 to officially launch Windows 8 and the tablet in New York in this Oct 25, 2012 file photo. Microsoft on Monday sent out invitations to a Sept 23 event at which it is expected to unveil new Surface tablets to challenge iPads and Android devices dominating the market.

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court on Thursday instructed the US International Trade Commission to reconsider a ruling that gave Google Inc a victory over Microsoft Corp in a patent dispute.

Acting on an appeal by Microsoft, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the ITC erred in its reasoning when it found that the Google unit Motorola Mobility did not infringe a Microsoft graphical interface patent.

After a critical discussion of the ITC judge's reasoning, the appeals court said: "This conclusion requires reversal of the 133 patent non-infringement judgment."

But it also said it agreed with the ITC that Motorola Mobility had successfully changed its smartphones so they no longer infringed the patent.

It also found the ITC was correct in ruling that Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google during the legal fight, did not infringe three other patents.

The dispute is one of dozens globally between various smartphone makers. Google's Android system has become the top-selling smartphone operating system, ahead of mobile systems by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry Ltd and others.

In the original case, the ITC found in May 2012 that Motorola Mobility infringed a patent for meeting-scheduling technology but did not infringe several other Microsoft patents. An order was issued banning infringing mobile phones from the marketplace.

Motorola Mobility says it removed the infringing software from its phones. Microsoft disagrees, and has filed a lawsuit against the US Customs and Border Protection, accusing the agency of failing to properly enforce the ITC order.

Microsoft said it was happy with the appeals court decision.

"We're pleased the court determined Google unfairly uses Microsoft technology," said David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel. "Google is free to license our inventions, but we're equally pleased if Google makes product adjustments to avoid using them."

A Motorola Mobility spokesman also saw good news in the appeals court decision. "Today's favourable opinion confirms our position that our products don't infringe the Microsoft patents," said spokesman Matt Kallman.

US courts continue to work during the shutdown of the federal government but the ITC is largely shut down.

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