Google works around Motorola import ban after Microsoft dispute

Droid X2 handset Google markets the Droid X2 as being "business ready" on its website

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Google is refusing to disclose details of how it intends to circumvent an import ban imposed on some of its Motorola devices in the US.

The International Trade Commission imposed the restriction after ruling that the firm had infringed one of Microsoft's patents.

The disputed technology allows users to synchronise calendar entries across different devices.

Google said it had taken "proactive measures" but would not share details.

Microsoft was granted a patent for the innovation in 2002 and uses it to power its Activesync software.

It allows a user to arrange a meeting in their mobile phone's calendar and then have the details sent to other invitees via computer servers.

If they agree to attend, the details of the event are then added to their calendars as well. The feature is popular with business customers.

Motorola previously paid a fee to use Microsoft's Activesync software between 2003 to 2007, but refused to renew the contract.

Google took over Motorola's consumer device wing earlier this year.

No licence

The Windows-maker confirmed the dispute had not been settled by Google agreeing to sign a new deal.

"Microsoft brought this case only after Motorola stopped licensing our intellectual property but continued to use our inventions in its products," said David Howard, Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel.

"It's unfortunate we've been forced to pursue legal action, but the solution for Motorola remains licensing our intellectual property at market rates as most other Android manufacturers have already done."

An alternative step would be for Google to install a version of Android that removes the synch function from devices named in the lawsuit, including its Droid X2 handset and Xoom tablet.

One company watcher said this would not be as big a problem as it might seem.

"You would expect that if Google can no longer support the Activesync functions then it would have to make this clear to shoppers looking for it," said Carolina Milanesi, vice president of research at the Gartner tech consultancy.

"But considering that Android is bigger in the consumer market than the enterprise market many users may not be interested in the service anyway."

A Google spokeswoman was unable to elaborate on the situation when contacted by the BBC.

If the firm's work-around does not satisfy the authorities, its devices could be blocked by US Customs and Border Protection officials.

A separate patent dispute between smartphone makers Apple and HTC earlier in the year led to some shipments of the latter's devices being delayed while the agency's workers checked their settings had been changed to remove the disputed feature.

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