It's the mantra of the mobile industry these days: If you can't beat them, sue the pants off of them instead. And Microsoft may be one step closer to winning Motorola's pants.
As the two companies continue to duke it out in the court room, a recent decision may have just turned the tide in Microsoft's favor. On Thursday, the a federal appeals court reversed a judgment made by the International Trade Commission and sided with Microsoft in calling for an import ban against Motorola devices that infringed on Microsoft's patents. The specific feature at the heart of this legal tussle? The context menu that pops up in Android whenever you long press an email or text message.
According to legal blog FossPatents, Microsoft's legal win means the ITC will have to go back and restart its investigation of Motorola's Android phones. Because the context menu is part of Android and not exactly something that Motorola implements on its own, the ITC is likely to find even more infringing devices and widen a U.S. import ban on Motorola Android phones. Most of Motorola's current phone line is currently built overseas and imported to the U.S., with the exception of Moto X which is assembled in Texas.
Should Microsoft come out on top of this whole mess, Motorola would have to pay up for every Android phone it sold that uses a context menu. (That would be all of them.) Since Google doesn't directly sell Android and keeps trumpeting its "open" status, Microsoft is instead targeting companies that implement the offending software. The company won a similar case against HTC two years ago and Microsoft now makes a decent amount of change from every HTC Android phone sold.
With Microsoft's own mobile operating system struggling to compete with Android and iOS, it makes sense that the company would target its biggest competition with these kinds of lawsuits. Microsoft now makes more money from Android licensing deals that it does from sales of Windows Phone handsets causing this author to wonder: Why even bother making your own phones when you can just make money off of everyone else's?