Microsoft Is Cleared Of Patent Infringement By U.S International Trade Commission
Microsoft avoided a major setback, when U.S. International Trade Commission declined to block the import of its devices in a longstanding patent dispute. This ruling allows Microsoft to import and sell its Lumia smartphones in the US. The decision rejected a ruling in April by a U.S. trade judge, who stated Microsoft had violated two wireless patents owned by InterDigital Inc.
InterDigital's Chief Executive Officer William Merritt said in a statement that the decision was disappointing but would have limited impact "given the decline of the Nokia mobile device business under Microsoft’s control and its limited market position."
A Microsoft spokesperson said the company was "grateful the Commission stopped InterDigital from trying to block our products."
The two companies are at odds over how much InterDigital should be able to charge to license its patents, which are essential to cellphone technology. The dispute over these patents, which concern optimizing a cellphone's power to connect to a network, first started way back in 2007, when InterDigital sued Nokia, claiming that the company had infringed on their property by using them in their phones without the proper license or payment. Microsoft acquired Nokia's Devices and Services business in 2014, which included the ongoing court battle with InterDigital.
According to Reuters,
In April, the U.S. trade judge ruled that Microsoft used InterDigital's patents, considered standard in the industry, but refused to pay for a license to them. An import ban would have affected any Microsoft phone using 3G cellular technology, including its Lumia smartphones.
After reviewing that ruling, the commission said on Friday that Microsoft did not violate the patents, but it did not address the issue of fair licensing for essential patents.
Earlier this month, Microsoft sued InterDigital in Delaware federal court, claiming InterDigital violated U.S. antitrust law by breaking promises to offer licenses on reasonable terms.
The commission's action is good news for Microsoft, which has been struggling to compete with Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd devices. Microsoft last month posted a record quarterly loss as it took a $7.5 billion charge on its handset business. According to a recent estimate, Microsoft's Windows Phone has captured just 3 percent of the smartphone market in the United States and globally.