Microsoft has found some interesting allies in the wake of an International Trade Commission patent battle that could result in an import ban on its best-selling Xbox 360 console. Several US congressmen, the US Federal Trade Commission, and an interesting array of tech industry giants are opposing the potential ban, saying it could threaten the stagnating US economy, among other claims.
ITC judge David Shaw recommended in May that the agency ban the import of Xbox 360 consoles into the United States as a result of alleged infringement of four standard-compliant patents owned by Motorola. The ITC will decide on June 25 whether to review that decision; if it doesn't review the decision, the import ban would go into effect.
Since that ruling, however, the ITC has received numerous complaints from the US Congress, the FTC, and from Microsoft’s partners and, interestingly, competitors in the tech space. All are arguing, for different reasons, that the proposed ITC ban on the Xbox 360 is unfair and should not be implemented.
Several US congressmen oppose the ban, noting that it would be detrimental to customers, put investments at risk, and in one extreme claim, could threaten the United States’ wobbly economic recovery. The US Federal Trade Commission also opposes the ban, for reasons related to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing terms for standard-complaint patents.
Apple, Cisco, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), IBM, Intel, Nokia, and other tech firms have all opposed the ban recommendation as well. "Apple respectfully submits that any exclusion order directed against Microsoft would significantly undermine the standards-setting process and frustrate the purpose of FRAND," a lawyer for the Cupertino consumer electronics giant noted.
“The video game industry is a significant contributor to the US economy and job growth, and reaches American consumers of all walks of life," the ESA told the ITC. “An exclusion order banning the importation of Xbox gaming consoles into the US would harm not only Microsoft, but a variety of other parties across the gaming ecosystem, including most importantly consumers and game publishers.” The ESA also noted that since Motorola doesn’t sell video games, it would “suffer no commensurate harm” if the console wasn’t banned.
IBM, which manufactures chipsets for the Xbox 360, said it would “suffer commercial harm” if the Xbox 360 is banned. The ban would be “detrimental” to IBM, it noted.