Google Inc. (GOOG) dropped two patents related to industrywide technical specifications from an infringement complaint against Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) at the U.S. International Trade Commission, where Google is seeking to block U.S. imports of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system.
In a motion filed yesterday at the Washington-based trade agency, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit said it planned to continue its ITC case against Microsoft regarding a third patent that doesn’t affect industry standards essential to letting products from different manufacturers work together. Google also said it would continue to seek damages relating to all the patents in federal-court lawsuits.
Google’s move comes after it agreed, as part of a settlement last week with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, to limits on its ability to seek orders blocking sales or imports of competitors’ products based on so-called standard-essential patents.
“It looks like Google is taking heed of the FTC’s decision,” patent lawyer Robert Stoll of Drinker Biddle in Washington, who’s not involved in the dispute, said in an interview today. “There’s been some concern they hadn’t at the same time dropped these claims.”
Microsoft is “pleased that Google has finally withdrawn these claims,” David Howard, deputy general counsel for the software maker, said in an e-mail.
Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Mountain View, California- based Google, declined to comment.
The FTC settlement requires Google to offer competitors “fair and reasonable” terms for licensing the use of patents included in industrywide standards for smartphones, tablet computers and other electronic devices. It also requires Google to offer to resolve disputes through binding arbitration before seeking to ban sales or imports by alleging infringement of standard-essential patents.
The FTC agreement resolved claims that Motorola Mobility, which Google bought for $12.4 billion last year, abused patents essential to industry standards to extract higher royalties.
The two standard-essential patents that Google dropped from its ITC case involve technology for video decoding. The patent that remains in dispute at the agency is for a way to establish communication between Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft’s Xbox and accessories.
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