Microsoft Asks For An Import Ban On Motorola Smartphones

Exhausted from a couple weeks in the European litigation ring, Apple has tagged in Microsoft to pick up the fight against Android. And it would seem that the divide-and-conquer strategy is panning out quite nicely for the duo we never thought would be.

Microsoft today filed a suit accusing Google’s betrothed, Motorola Mobility, of infringing on seven of Microsoft’s patents that just so happen to cover Android. Before the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, Microsoft requested an import ban on a number of Motorola smartphones.

A few of the features Motorola phones are allegedly infringing include email synchronization, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and a way to alert applications of a change in signal strength and battery power. Microsoft calls these things “essential to the smartphone user experience.” Then again, Microsoft argues that all Android devices make use of its technology. Motorola phones listed in the complaint include the Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip, and the Charm.

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is “confident that the ITC will rule in [its] favor.” Meanwhile, Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said in an email to Bloomberg that Motorola is “vigorously defending [itself] against Microsoft’s patent attack business strategy.” And a business strategy is exactly what it is.

We’re all aware that Google is scooping up Motorola for one very key reason (although there are other great ones) — Motorola holds almost 15,000 granted patents, with nearly 7,000 applications. So I guess it’s actually 22,000 key reasons, although only about 18 of them will make a true difference in patent brawls. Still, that may be enough to solidly defend Android through the next few years, leaving iOS and Android far ahead of every other OS in the market.

Though Apple and Microsoft have long been bitter, hateful rivals, Microsoft has been forced to choose the lesser evil. For the next few years at least, Windows Phone will not take the throne by any stretch of the imagination. But with webOS dropping out of the race, along with Symbian falling way behind in North America, Windows Phone has a good shot at stealing away the number three spot from RIM, whose market share continues to drop.

But if you think beyond the near future, Windows Phone has even greater potential. Nokia may be struggling, but the company has proven time and time again that it knows how to build a phone. Mango represents something fresh and intuitive, and with Nokia hardware, Microsoft may even be ready to grab a number two spot eventually. But it has to kill off one of the big boys first.

Since Apple’s platform is completely closed and contained to its own devices, the wide reach of Android seems like a more productive target. Apple is already throwing punch after punch at Samsung, with a few jabs saved here and there for HTC. That means Microsoft can focus on what’s left of the Android hardware makers — Motorola. Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex will release his findings to the public on November 4.