ITC judge finds Microsoft's Xbox infringes on Motorola patents

Motorola won a ruling against Microsoft today, as a U.S. International Trade Commission judge, David Shaw, found that Microsoft's Xbox 360 console infringes on four patents owned by Motorola regarding H.264 video encoding, Bloomberg reported today. A fifth patent under question was not infringed upon, the judge found.

The ruling isn't final, however, as Shaw's decision must be reviewed by a six-member commission, which could then block imports of any Microsoft products found to be in violation of Motorola's patents (in this case, Microsoft's Xbox 360). According to the Bloomberg report, Motorola's complaint and Shaw's decision are as follows:

Motorola Mobility contends that Microsoft is infringing two patents that cover aspects of an industry standard for video decoding, two for Wi-Fi technology and a fifth patent on a way that to establish communication between the Xbox and accessories. The second Wi-Fi patent wasn’t infringed, and one aspect of one of the video-coding patents was invalid, the judge said.

Motorola's lawsuit is largely believed to be a retaliatory action against Microsoft, which has been attempting to strike licensing agreements with companies that sell Android-powered phones that potentially infringe on Microsoft patents. Microsoft and Motorola are currently in a patent-infringement dispute over the latter's Android-powered phones, as the two companies do not have a licensing agreement in place, unlike many other Android device manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung.

Microsoft previously won a ruling against Motorola from a federal judge in Seattle, who granted a Microsoft request to block an impending injunction from Motorola which would have forced the company to stop selling the Xbox 360 and Windows in Germany. Motorola is requesting a 2.25 percent royalty for any Microsoft products using the patents in question.

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Enron said,
So does Microsoft have to go back to making proprietary standards for everything from now on to avoid this sort of thing in the future?

They can't have it both ways. They can't go around threatening every Android OEM and company that uses Linux, then expect special treatment when those same companies countersue. It's about time someone fought back against this extortion scheme.

nohone said,

Microsoft should just raise the licensing fees on the Android OS for Motorola to $4 billion a year. Then it will be fair.


Motorola should just raise the licensing fees on the codec for Xbox 360 for Microsoft to $4 billion a year. Then it will be fair.

mantragora said,

Because h264 will be a part of HTML5 open format

H.264 will never be a part of the HTML5 standard because it's chock-full of patents.
mantragora said,

and, if motorola wins this, they could stop doing anything from now on and focus on suing every company on the planed, and in a matter of one year beating Apple as company number one on this planet. $4 bilions from Apple, $4 billions from Microsoft etc.

Microsoft and Apple are the companies that go around suing everyone here, not Motorola, and especially not now that Google owns them. This is purely for defensive reasons. Microsoft is suing Motorola, and threatening every other Android OEM, not to mention companies that use GNU/Linux, so it's perfectly justifiable to teach the bully a lesson here

They could just buy the rights to use them; is not this what they asked Motorola to do too for Android?

Sigh. It's not that Microsoft doesn't want to buy the rights for them, its that Motorola isn't making them available under the terms they originally signed.

h.264 is an industry standard licensed under FRAND. Basically this means the companies that make up MPEG-LA (MS, Motorola, Apple etc etc) all agreed to share patents and make them available for pretty cheap (Microsoft pays 2 cents to get access to all the patents due to volume discounts, and the highest anyone else pays is 20 cents to get access to some 1500 patents).

Motorola wants Microsoft to pay 2.25% royalty for the use of just 5 patents (out of the 1500). See the problem here? Motorola isn't making their patents available under the FRAND terms they signed and agreed upon when they joined MPEG-LA.

Too bad the anti-MS trolls in here seem to conveniently forget about this and keep pointing out FAT / Exchange patents that MS has. Guess what FAT and Exchange aren't industry standards, aren't licensed under FRAND so they can be as expensive as they want it to be.

simplezz said,
Microsoft and Apple are the companies that go around suing everyone here, not Motorola, and especially not now that Google owns them. This is purely for defensive reasons. Microsoft is suing Motorola, and threatening every other Android OEM, not to mention companies that use GNU/Linux, so it's perfectly justifiable to teach the bully a lesson here

Except h.264 is an industry standard and subject to FRAND terms. Motorola refuses to license it under those very same FRAND terms they signed when they joined MPEG-LA.

Sorry bro, but in this case (apart from the wifi patents which are seperate) Motorola is in the wrong. Amazing how I have to keep pointing this out every single time something about this lawsuit pops up

And now that the FAT patent has been proven invalid, the continued extortion of Android OEM's will likely grind to a halt too.

Too bad the FAT patent isn't the only one. One of them, I believe, is MS exchange support. Apple licenses it from MS due to their cross licensing agreement, pretty sure Google doesn't. There are also others.

Edited by -Razorfold, Apr 24 2012, 6:42am :

MS Lose32 said,

Motorola should just raise the licensing fees on the codec for Xbox 360 for Microsoft to $4 billion a year. Then it will be fair.

If you were to read the story, you would see that Moto is asking for $4 billion a year in their law suit.

H.264 will never be a part of the HTML5 standard because it's chock-full of patents.

Doesn't matter whether or not it's part of the spec. h.264 is pretty much the de-facto standard anyways.

IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all have support for h.264 either baked into the OS or via a plugin (MS made a free plugin for firefox, and mozilla have said they plan to support it).

Hardware manufacturers are on board too with pretty much any device made in the past 2-3 years supporting hardware accelerated h.264.

WebM has barely any support and is only hardware accelerated on a very few, if any, devices. So unless Google manages to do something drastic about that and get all hardware manufacturers and browser makers to dump h.264 in favor of WebM...h.264 has already won.

deadonthefloor said,
h.264 is about to become google's.

I don't like where this is going.


Then use WebM. The free/libre alternative is always the better alternative in the long run.

MS Lose32 said,

Then use WebM. The free/libre alternative is always the better alternative in the long run.

Google OWNS WebM too... Are you insane or high?

WebM is 'open' only in that Google continues to release the source... However, DEFINING and making STANDARD what WebM is and what goes into WebM, is all up to Google, which means they could add in code that requires WebM to send Ad information about the videos watched back to Google, or change it to make it completely incompatible with any previous version and device/codebase that currently uses it.

Google may be locked into the 'release' of the source code via the licensing, but they call the shots as to what it is and what it does and what it works on and WHO can use it.... Yes even requiring licensing fees is possible.

To put WebM in perspective, it is not a 'STANDARD' it is a proprietary codec that a company owns and releases the source code. Microsoft's WMV aka VC1 is a true 'STANDARD' as it is controlled by a 3rd party 'body' that defines the standard and ensures that even Microsoft themselves do not change or modify it in any way that would make it incompatible with previous versions, or make older BluRay players no longer able to watch movies, or anything else that would hurt CONSUMERS.

VC1 is a full standard and and restrictive than the MPEG group's H.264 even.

However, they both are at least 'standards' that are governed by a collective of 3rd parties and not solely owned and dictated by one company like WebM and VP8 are by Google.

In the actual 'standards' world, VC1 is a much more flexible and consumer friendly standard than WebM or H.264 - and it is cheaper than H.264 as well.

Open Source DOES NOT EQUAL Free/Standard and certainly not free of one company dictating the code and product. (Sure you can take the WebM/VP8 source code and make a cute player, but if Google doesn't support your code, it is worthless, as they are the one that gets to tell everyone what WebM is and is not.)


I really find it hard to accept that people see the words 'open source' or 'open' assume it is less encumbered or less controlled, when often it is more controlled because it is not under the scrutiny of a standards body.

This is the myth of a lot of FOSS especially with regard to codecs - almost ever FOSS codec has less standards/structure and has more 'dictated' control than products from Microsoft or Apple.

korupt_one said,
Microsoft should just raise the licensing fees on android and kill it off.

Wow real smart! Motorola should just raise the licensing fees on the Xbox 360 and kill it off.

korupt_one said,
Microsoft should just raise the licensing fees on android and kill it off.

Since Microsoft's FAT patent has now been invalidated, OEM's won't be paying licensing fees for much longer.

simplezz said,

Since Microsoft's FAT patent has now been invalidated, OEM's won't be paying licensing fees for much longer.

Too bad the FAT patent isn't the only one. One of them, I believe, is MS exchange support. Apple licenses it from MS due to their cross licensing agreement, pretty sure Google doesn't. There are also others.

simplezz said,

Since Microsoft's FAT patent has now been invalidated, OEM's won't be paying licensing fees for much longer.

Oh the patents regarding FAT are irrelevant... In fact the only FAT based patent dispute was with TomTom, and if you read the specifics of the lawsuit, it was a very specific problem with them using Microsoft code in addition to the FAT technology.


You seem to forget there is a lot of 'contributions' to Linux and other open source products that are not 'checked' for originality/patent issues.

Microsoft could not only shut down Android, they could cripple Linux to a non-working pile of spaghetti code.

Even the Dalvik JVM in Android violates Microsoft JIT technologies, and the list is really really long.

Anyone that 'doubts' the strength of Microsoft patent suitcase with regard to Android or Linux, should just refer to the massive legal teams at HUGE companies from HTC and LG to even Red Hat that concluded Linux itself and Android both violate SEVERAL major Microsoft patents that are essential to the workings of the product.

Thing about it like this... The next time you see a squiggle line for something misspelled or highlight a word and change the font, you are using Microsoft technology, these things did not exist before Microsoft created them, and they are 'basic' concepts of all OSes today that we take for granted.

-Razorfold said,

Too bad the FAT patent isn't the only one. One of them, I believe, is MS exchange support. Apple licenses it from MS due to their cross licensing agreement, pretty sure Google doesn't. There are also others.

Do they really, because the Exchange support on Android is garbage.

thenetavenger said,

Oh the patents regarding FAT are irrelevant... In fact the only FAT based patent dispute was with TomTom

That's incorrect. One of the patents Microsoft is suing Motorola's Android devices over is surprise surprise - FAT. So Motorola brought Linus Torvalds to testify about an online discussion which invalidated FAT with prior art.

I guess you didn't hear about it. It was big news at the time because Microsoft always uses FAT to extort GNU/Linux companies into licensing agreements.

I wrote about it here:
http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...dates-microsoft-fat-patent/

thenetavenger said,

and if you read the specifics of the lawsuit, it was a very specific problem with them using Microsoft code in addition to the FAT technology.

Neither Motorola nor TomTom use Microsoft code. Microsoft is suing them both over functionality present in the Linux kernel, which Microsoft asserts encroaches upon its FAT patent. It's all water under the bridge now though that prior art has been definitively established.

thenetavenger said,

You seem to forget there is a lot of 'contributions' to Linux and other open source products that are not 'checked' for originality/patent issues.

Patents are what big companies use to stop innovation and competition. Microsoft and Apple are perfect examples of this abuse of the patent system.

As to not checking patents, well, Microsoft software is also riddled with other peoples patents too. In fact, some peices of software released by Microsoft have used GPL'd FOSS code and not honoured the licence.

thenetavenger said,

Microsoft could not only shut down Android, they could cripple Linux to a non-working pile of spaghetti code.

If Microsoft could, they would have by now. Not that they aren't trying with these anti-Linux lawsuits. Unfortunately for them, even funding attack dogs like SCO has failed.

GNU/Linux is growing while Windows and Microsoft software use is falling.

thenetavenger said,

Even the Dalvik JVM in Android violates Microsoft JIT technologies, and the list is really really long.

Really? I could have sworn Sun microsystems came up with JIT technologies first. It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft licenses Oracle's patents it acquired from Sun. Regardless, Microsoft's JIT is just a replica of the technology it was intended to emulate - Java.

Neither Motorola nor TomTom use Microsoft code. Microsoft is suing them both over functionality present in the Linux kernel, which Microsoft asserts encroaches upon its FAT patent. It's all water under the bridge now though that prior art has been definitively established.

Did you even bother to read what I said? The FAT patent isn't the only one being infringed. Exchange is one of the other ones, and there's probably more.

I highly ****ing doubt companies like Samsung (which is 4x the size of microsoft and has 4x the revenue) is going to sit there and throw cash at MS if they thought MS was full of ****.

Grow up.

Patents are what big companies use to stop innovation and competition. Microsoft and Apple are perfect examples of this abuse of the patent system.

Is that so? What world do you live in bro?

Here's an example of what would happen if patents didn't exist. Say you're the owner of an airplane company called Joe's Wings. Now you just spent millions of dollars and years developing the perfect wing, and finally you got it.

So you go ahead and put it on one of your new planes. Mr.Boeing and Mr.Airbus find out about this wing, copy it and put it on their new planes. Guess what happens? All that money you spent researching and developing stuff, has just gone to waste.

Without patents, innovation wouldn't occur because NOBODY would spend millions of dollars and days and days of research for free. People have families to feed, kids to send to school etc.

GNU/Linux is growing while Windows and Microsoft software use is falling.

Uh huh. 2012 will be the year of the linux! 2011 and every year before it wasn't, but 2012 thats when it shall be.

Watching Google money in action is so sad...

Motorola and Google are going to end peeing on Microsoft and get Android shut down permanently.

The really messed up part of the H.264 crap is that Microsoft was NOT a proponent of the standard, as it was encumbered.

Microsoft wrote the first incarnation of the h.264 standard in the 90s and then let it go to the open source community when they no longer supported the insane licensing attached. (Which is where xvid/divx come from, as they originated from Microsoft MPEG4 code.)

The XBox added h.264 in request of consumers and was licensed because NONE of the inherent capabilities or video features of the XBox used h.264, as the SDK and all video for the platform was based on MPEG2 (again licensed) and VC1 (Microsoft's own WMV format standard that competes with h.264.)
*So it was end users that wanted the same video 'playback' features that Sony was touting for the PS3 that pushed Microsoft to even enable the feature on the device. (There is a primaryy license for the HDDVD add on unit for h.264, as it was the only 'original' usage of the codec.)

Motorola had NO problem with the licensing, and the patents of the license that is also used by every OTHER company in the world essentially. So when Microsoft licensed the h.264, Motorola didn't care or say anything and Microsoft paid the license fees.

Microsoft puts pressure on Android companies that are making a profit off an OS model that has two distinct OS technologies that each violate several of Microsoft Patents. Linux itself and the Dalvik JVM also violate Microsoft Patents, especially in the JIT technologies that 2.2 Android introduced.

So Motorola gets word from Google to hold off on the patent licensing as they are ready to deal with them and give them them any extra financing they need to fight the lawsuit to make a stand for Android.

Meanwhile HTC, Samsung, LG, and EVERY other company that has reviewed the patent suitcase has concluded that Microsoft DOES own the patents and begin paying the licensing fees.

And for people that think the Microsoft patents are 'crap' or 'reaching', the lawyers at these companies, including Red Hat DISAGREE.

(Microsoft let's Linux and a lot of products that use their technology exist until they become a competitor to Microsoft making a large amount of money technology that Microsoft created and owns. This is why 99% of the Linux distributions are not paying licensing fees, yet Android device makers and companies that have a paid server product like Red Hat are paying licensing fees to Microsoft.)

MS Lose32 said,

So many big acusations, so little sources...

The h.264 license in question is pretty much common fact, and if you checked other news sites like Arc Technica where the authors actually have credibility and know what they're talking about (instead of Neowin where they have none). You'd find out for yourself.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-po...h-huge-patent-royalties.ars

But the Motorola patents in question are supposed to be covered by fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms, Microsoft said, meaning they should be licensed for just a nominal fee. Microsoft said Motorola wants that $22.50 royalty payment for just 50 standards-essential patents, yet a group of 29 companies that holds the other 2,300 patents related to H.264 is charging Microsoft just 2¢.

"That's right. Just 2¢ for use of more than 2,300 patents," Heiner wrote. "(Windows qualifies for a nice volume discount, but no firm has to pay more than 20 cents per unit.) Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pay more than 1,000 times that for use of just 50 patents.

Good day to you troll.

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