Judge recommends US Xbox 360 ban

Motorola vs Microsoft patent dispute heats up. President Obama may have to step in.

A judge has recommended that the Xbox 360 be banned in the US.

Courthouse News reports that Judge David Shaw said the International Trade Commission should use a cease and desist order to ban imports of the Xbox 360 Slim 4GB and 250GB models into the US because, in his view, they infringe on four patents owned by Motorola.

He also wants Microsoft to post a bond equal to seven per cent of the value of unsold Xbox 360s in the US.

The patents at the heart of the dispute revolve around how the Xbox 360 decodes video content. Motorola claims ownership on the tech powering this.

Reacting to this latest decision, Microsoft argued the ban would not serve the public interest because it would leave consumers with only two home console options: the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. But the judge rejected the claim, saying it was more important to enforce intellectual property rights. Plus, he wasn't convinced Sony and Nintendo wouldn't be able to meet increased demand.

Microsoft said the suggested seven per cent bond was unnecessary, and recommended it be reduced to 2.5 per cent. Motorola wants it increased to a whopping 100 per cent of the value of the unsold Xbox 360s.

So what happens next in this long-running, complex patent dispute? If the ITC makes the judge's recommendation final, President Barack Obama will then have 60 days to review the decision. After that period expires, the next step is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Earlier this month a US judge accused the warring factions of using the US District Court as "a pawn in a global, industry-wide business negotiation".

Judge James Robart said both sides were clearly "driven by an attempt to secure commercial advantage". "To an outsider looking at it, it has been arbitrary, it has been arrogant and frankly it has been based on hubris," he said.

A German court has already ruled in favour of Motorola, granting an injunction prohibiting sales of the console in the country. However, Robart issued a temporary restraining order preventing Motorola from enforcing that decision.

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