Motorola says smartphones will be available in US despite ban

Motorola Mobility said Tuesday that it has taken “proactive measures” to ensure that its smartphones remain available to consumers in the U.S., despite a U.S. International Trade Commission ban on its phones that comes into effect on Wednesday.

On May 18 this year, following a complaint from Microsoft, the ITC ordered a limited exclusion “prohibiting the unlicensed entry for consumption of mobile devices, associated software and components thereof ” covered by claims 1,2,5 or 6 of U.S. Patent no. 6,370,566. The patent, assigned to Microsoft, relates to generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device.

The order becomes effective Wednesday after a 60-day period of Presidential Review.

The commission did not specify the mobile devices affected. The order provides an exception for service, repair, or replacement articles for use in servicing, repairing, or replacing mobile devices under warranty or insurance contract. The ITC investigation is numbered 337-TA-744.

“In view of the ITC exclusion order which becomes effective Wednesday with respect to the single ActiveSync patent upheld in Microsoft’s ITC-744 proceeding, Motorola has taken proactive measures to ensure that our industry-leading smartphones remain available to consumers in the U.S.,” Motorola said in a statement. “We respect the value of intellectual property and expect other companies to do the same,” it added.

Motorola, which is now owned by Google, may get around the ban by disabling or implementing differently a specific calendar synching feature of ActiveSync in which calendar meeting requests are generated by an ActiveSync-enabled mobile phone, that the Microsoft patent relates to, according to a source who declined to be named.

Motorola is locked in patent disputes with Microsoft and other companies including Apple before the ITC and in courts in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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