Just a few days ago, Apple put one of its patents to good use, blocking some HTC devices (namely the EVO 4G LTE) from being imported at US customs and causing a delay in shipment. Now, Microsoft has gotten out the calendar/schedule patent it won an ITC ruling against Motorola with, and is using it to block Motorola's imports just as Apple is blocking HTC's.
It hasn't been specified exactly which devices the ITC is actually blocking, but we do know that Microsoft requested nearly every Motorola Android device except the Droid RAZR/RAZR MAXX, Droid 4, and Atrix 2. While this would seem to lessen the impact of the import ban on consumers, it is more likely that this is an old list and Microsoft will try to block Motorola's newer devices in the near future.
It is, however, possible that Motorola has been able to update devices with a subtle tweak that negates Microsoft's fairly insignificant patent, similar to how HTC has managed to get around Apple's patent. Hopefully this is the case, because the way Motorola handles this could have quite an impact, considering they are currently being purchased by Google. Obviously, what Microsoft wants is for Motorola to pay a licensing fee or stop selling devices in the US, but neither of these is likely to happen. Motorola should be able to get around the patent with some software tweaks, and move along as if there was no problem.
In the end, it's not likely that the average consumer will feel the effects of this import ban nearly as much as the HTC/Apple battle, but as I said before this dispute could have greater consequences. I really hope that Motorola doesn't have to end up paying license fees of $5-$15 dollars, because if they do succumb then Microsoft will gain more power over Android and even other device manufacturers. If Motorola has actually stolen something, then they should be able to change it and move on. Either way, the case should not be an issue of Microsoft blocking Motorola's imports or forcing them to pay a disproportionately large license fee, at least not over something as small as a calendar patent.[Reuters]