Tech Heavyweights Oppose Xbox Import Ban - InformationWeek

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Tech Heavyweights Oppose Xbox Import Ban

Even Microsoft rival Apple says U.S. ITC should reject calls by Google and Motorola to block importation of the gaming console due to alleged patent violations.

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A group of tech industry giants, including Apple, are asking a U.S. trade tribunal to reject Google's call for an importation ban on the Xbox gaming and entertainment console, which the search giant claims violates patents held by its Motorola Mobility unit.

IBM, Nokia, Intel, and Cisco, as well as Apple, have filed briefs with the U.S. International Trade Commission in which they argue that a ban would cause widespread economic damage to the tech industry. A ban is also opposed by the Entertainment Software Association.

"The video game industry is a significant contributor to the U.S. economy and job growth, and reaches American consumers of all walks of life," said ESA in papers filed with the ITC.

"An exclusion order banning the importation of Xbox gaming consoles into the U.S. would harm not only Microsoft, but a variety of other parties across the gaming ecosystem, including most importantly consumers and game publishers," the group said.

IBM makes chips for the Xbox, and Xbox games can be played on a number of platforms and networks that use components from a wide range of tech vendors.

[ Should Microsoft unite consumer products under the Xbox brand? See: How The Xbox Can Save Microsoft. ]

The hubbub arose after Motorola and Microsoft filed patent claims and counterclaims against each other in multiple jurisdictions, in the U.S. and internationally, over patents used in mobile technology and gaming systems.

Most recently, Motorola, acquired by Google earlier this year for $12.5 billion, filed a complaint with the ITC claiming that the Xbox steps on four of its patents related to video compression.

In May, U.S. ITC judge David Shaw said he favored Motorola's request for a ban, prompting the outcry from the larger tech industry. The full commission is set to rule on Shaw's findings on June 25.

A ban on the Xbox would have a significant financial impact on Microsoft. The company's Entertainment and Devices unit, which derives its revenue primarily from the Xbox and related products, accounted for more than 9% of Microsoft's total sales in its most recent quarter.

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