Microsoft Facing Ban On US Xbox 360 Sales

The Xbox 360 era may becoming to an ignoble end, if the recommendation of the presiding judge in the International Trade Commission dispute between Microsoft and Motorla is followed.

At issue is Motorola’s claim that the 4GB and 250GB versions of Xbox 360 Slim infringe on Motorola patents because they use “Motorola-developed technology that allows set-top boxes to decode transmissions between its Droid2 and DroidX mobile devices”. Motorola filed a complaint with the ITC in 2010; in April, 2012, Presiding Judge David Shaw ruled that Microsoft had indeed infringed. Yesterday, he recommended that the International Trade Commission should ban all imports of both the 4GB and 250GB versions of Xbox 360 slim. This ban, he says, should be enforced with a cease and desist order from the ITC, and in addition, Microsoft should be forced to post a bond equivalent to 7% of the total value of all relevant models already in the US directly to Motorola.

Microsoft has insisted all along that their use of the technology was legitimate because Motorola refused to “abide by requirements set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association to set reasonable license fees of essential technology.” They claim further that removing these Xbox 360 models from stores would be bad for consumers because it would limit choice to PS3 and Wii. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Judge Shaw isn’t having it. He rejected this argument out of hand, ruling that enforcing intellectual property rights has greater public interest than the economic impact caused by the sudden cessation of an entire wing of the video game industry.

Judge Shaw also said that “Microsoft did not even try to show that its competitors were incapable of meeting demand for the consoles,” but we’re too busy being extremely disturbed by the supposition that IP rights supersede all other concerns to notice.

It’s important to note that this recommendation is just that, a recommendation. It is not binding, and the ITC may impose whatever punishment they want. However, as a federal agency, the ITC has the power to inflict lasting punishment, and should they agree with Judge Shaw, Microsoft’s only recourse will be a court – and ultimately, a Supreme Court – challenge. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were Microsoft’s legal team. The SCOTUS just effectively gave their approval to forcing a young man to pay a whopping $675,000 to the RIAA for the nefarious crime of having downloaded 30 songs when he was in college. They’re probably going to come down firmly on the side of IP ownership.

If the ban is ultimately upheld, it would effectively knock Microsoft out of the console game for at least a year, possibly longer. The company has opted not to unveil their next gen console, code-named Durango, in 2012, suggesting that they have a long way to go before a workable model will be ready, even if the rumors that a dev kit version is already on the way turn out to be true. Perhaps this ruling results in Durango being rushed out; no doubt Nintendo is probably crossing their fingers that they’ll have company when WiiU flops later this year.

I admit, considering how Microsoft (through the ESA) famously acted in the shadiest possible manner when they were attempting to send Matthew Crippen to prison forevs for having modded an Xbox 360 console, it’s extremely delicious to see them being brutally hoisted by their own petard. But while the schadenfreude is indeed exhilarating, the further entrenchment of the idea that we are but feudal tenants at the mercy of entities who benefit from increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws is terrifying.

Via Game Politics

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3 Comments on Microsoft Facing Ban On US Xbox 360 Sales


On May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

“The SCOTUS just effectively gave their approval to forcing a young man to pay a whopping $675,000 to the RIAA for the nefarious crime of having downloaded 30 songs when he was in college.”

America, home of the free? Not anymore. We live in a fascist society.


On May 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

firstly sucked in to microsoft the dug their own hole on that

second everything you have posted about the “new” xbox console is nothing but crap you lie and lie and lie and that is all

thirldly the wii sold more units than the xbox and ps3 so guess what te wiiu is in hd and it is nintendo so innovation is what they are good at they will sell better than the others as the nintendo branded games are decent and well respected unlike well wait sony and microsoft dont have anything like that my bad.

and besides your a crummy guy on a site that is stating to have the same reputation as gamespy at least nintendo will always do and leave mark in society unlike well you

Ross Lincoln

On May 24, 2012 at 7:34 am

Bob, what are you talking about? Microsoft has explicitly ruled out Xbox 720 in 2012:

Care to explain the lie?

As for WiiU? Yes, it is indeed possible I will turn out to be wrong. I was employing that obscure, little-known literary device known as ‘humor’ when i pronounced that WiiU will flop. But FWIW, my reasoning is this:

While Wii is the biggest success of the current generation, the fact is that success is largely due to how cheap it was – For the first few years, XBOX 360 was either $399 or $299 depending on storage. PS3 was originally 499 and 599! – and the rather interesting gimmick of a controller. They also carved out the casual gamer market, all but abandoning core gamers. That was a smart play, until smartphones became the preferred means by which people play casual games. In the meantime, the fact is that aside from Mario Galaxy (which I love!), for the most part Nintendo has largely ignored their classic franchises. They even tossed off Metroid to a third party who ruined it. Maybe you like Skyward Sword, but it’s absolutely true that it shouldn’t have taken so long to come out.

So, you may have heard that Nintendo posted a loss for last year for the first time, you know, ever? Even 3DS flopped. The company has basically become over-reliant on gimmicks and thanks to their lack of good games, they’ve trashed the brand. Yes, WiiU is going to be HD, but by chasing after the casual market for so long, and trashing their brand, they aren’t guaranteed the kind of day one interest they had with Wii. Add to this the likelihood that it’s going to be expensive, and it’ll be coming out (probably) a full year before Xbox 720 and PS4, and my spider sense is telling me it might end up being their Dreamcast.

Now, again, I was exaggerating for comedy. And personally, I’d like to see Nintendo pull it together and take back their position as a major gaming producer. But I think WiiU is not going to be the hit they’re hoping for. Unless it launches with several core franchise titles and some interesting, high quality, exclusive second party IP (and not just a bunch of brand-ID crap like Luigi’s Mansion, silly party games, and low rent kids games). We need to see new Metroid, new Mario (real Mario), new Zelda, new Pikmin, and a game like Eternal Darkness on launch day. But do I think Nintendo is going to do that? I don’t. I bet it will be 6 months or more before there’s even a reason to buy it. And that’s not going to be good for their bottom line.