The Washington based U.S. International Trade Commission had issued an import ban for Motorola smartphones in 2012 after it found that Motorola’s devices were infringing on a Microsoft patent, filed in 1998, that relates to how devices sync calendar events, email address and contact information with other mobile devices and PCs. Microsoft has now filed a lawsuit in Washington, claiming that U.S. Customs is not enforcing the order and is allowing the import of Motorola devices in the country. Other Android smartphone manufacturers have a licensing agreement with Microsoft over the use of this patent, Motorola does not.
Microsoft alleges in its lawsuit that Motorola Mobility, wholly owned by Google, held secret meetings with U.S. Customs and convinced them that the patent did not apply to syncing through Google servers instead of Microsoft’s services. Both requests have previously been denied by the ITC. ITC’s order to ban the import of Motorola’s smartphones remains in effect till April 2018, which is when Microsoft’s patent will expire. David Howard, Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft says that Customs has a “clear responsibility” to act upon the decisions of the ITC, and that it has “repeatedly ignored its obligations.”