Microsoft has finally been cleared of a long-standing patent dispute, as the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of the Windows maker in a case that was apparently levied against Nokia by InterDigital back in 2007. Hence, the ruling implies that there won’t be any import ban on Lumia smartphones, which could have had severe repercussions for Microsoft given the upcoming launch of its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, saving it from the perils of a complete import ban for its devices.
Apparently, it was Nokia who was sued by InterDigital when the Finnish manufacturer was an independent entity, though later joined hands with Microsoft to manufacture Windows Phone devices and were also partly acquired by the Redmond giant. InterDigital claims that Nokia infringed on two of its ‘standard essential’ patents for 3G technology and used them in their devices without the necessary licensing and payment. The ‘standard essential’ implies that it is absolutely critical for a patent to comply with a technical standard.
While in April, a US trade judge ruled in favor of InterDigital and confirmed that Microsoft indeed used the former’s patents, and refused to pay a fee to them. An import ban was likely on the cards that would have affected a slew of Lumia devices, including the rumored flagship devices (i.e. Lumia 950 and 950 XL) to be announced in October. Though, after a thorough review of that ruling, the Commission on Friday confirmed that Microsoft did not violate any of InterDigital’s patents. Hence, the import ban will not be necessary.
While earlier in August, Microsoft counter-sued InterDigital in Deleware federal court, on grounds that they are not giving its licenses on reasonable terms, contrary to what they initially promised.
Since the ruling on Friday, InterDigital’s stocks saw a 3 percent decline, though the company still insists that the ruling had very little effect on its business. InterDigital’s Chief Executive Officer William Merritt said in a statement that the ruling was indeed disappointing, though will barely have any impact “given the decline of the Nokia mobile device business under Microsoft’s control and its limited market position.”