An International Trade Commission (ITC) judge on Friday issued a preliminary decision in a patent battle involving Motorola Mobility, now part of Google, and Microsoft. According to administrative law judge David P. Shaw, Microsoft’s Xbox video game console does not infringe on a Motorola patent. And he recommends that the ITC dismiss the case.

Google, which purchased Motorola Mobility almost solely for its patent portfolio, had been seeking to ban the sale of the Xbox in the United States had the console been found to be infringing.

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“We are pleased with the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that Microsoft did not violate Motorola’s patent and are confident that this determination will be affirmed by the Commission,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Howard said.

“We are disappointed with today’s determination and look forward to the full Commission’s review,” a Google spokesperson added.

Motorola Mobility sued Microsoft for patent infringement in November 2010 after Microsoft attempted to get the firm to pay patent licenses for infringing technology in Android, failed, and then sued Motorola. The Motorola case against Microsoft originally included five patents, but it’s been whittled down over time. Two video-related charges were dropped in the wake of a Google agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding standard-essential patents. And two of the patents are expiring this year.

A final determination is expected in late July. But Motorola/Google and Microsoft still face other related patent battles in the United States and Europe; the ITC oversees international trade issues only.  

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