Google Asks Judge to Toss Microsoft Suit Over Phone Ban

Google Inc. (GOOG) said Microsoft (MSFT) Corp. acted too hastily in suing U.S. customs officials in a patent dispute over whether Motorola Mobility phones should be blocked at the border.

Google, in a court filing today, asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by Microsoft that accused the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of failing to enforce an order to ban imports of the phones. Microsoft should instead have taken its complaint back to the trade agency that issued the ban, Google argued.

Microsoft won an order from the International Trade Commission that prevents Google’s Motorola Mobility from shipping Asian-made phones that have a feature that synchronizes calendars between phones and computers. Google convinced customs that it was no longer infringing the patent.

Microsoft’s suit is “an unprecedented attempt” by Microsoft to circumvent the administrative process, Google said, seeking to intervene in the case. “Customs noted that the ITC has yet to consider, much less resolve, the issue Microsoft asks this court to decide: whether Motorola’s use of Google’s synchronization protocol infringes Microsoft’s patent.”

The ITC in Washington issued the ban in May 2012 after deciding that Motorola Mobility devices infringed the Microsoft patent. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, in a complaint filed July 12, said that order isn’t being enforced.

Google Appeal

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is appealing the infringement finding, while Microsoft is challenging the ITC’s decision that four other patents weren’t infringed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent law, is scheduled to hear arguments in both appeals Aug. 6 in Washington.

In a filing today, the U.S. asked the court to deny Microsoft’s request, arguing the company “entirely fails to establish entitlement to the extraordinary remedy of compelling government to action.”

David Cuddy, a Microsoft spokesman, declined to comment immediately on the filing.

The case is Microsoft Corp. v. Department of Homeland Security, 13-1063, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net.

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