Trade commission to hear Microsoft’s complaint on Taiwanese vendor

The U.S. International Trade Commission will investigate a patent infringement complaint filed by Microsoft against a Taiwanese company.

In the complaint filed July 30, Microsoft alleges that Primax Electronics infringes the software giant’s patents used in peripherals including keyboards and mice. Microsoft is asking the ITC to ban the importation of the products.

Within 45 days, the ITC will say how long it expects the investigation to take. After that, the administrative law judge assigned to the case will make an initial determination about the violation, which then must be reviewed by the commission.

Microsoft’s complaint cites seven patents covering a variety of mechanisms such as the scroll wheel, laser and ergonomic shape of a mouse. Some of the patents were filed as far back as the late 1980s, but others are more recent.

Two of the patents in this case were relevant in a similar complaint that Microsoft filed against Belkin in 2006. The companies settled the dispute before the ITC issued a ruling.

The investigation comes on the heels of one launched by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission into whether Microsoft holds a monopoly in the island’s software market. The unusual case charges Microsoft with limiting consumer choices by phasing out the sale of Windows XP.

It also precedes an announcement that Microsoft expects to make out of its hardware group on Sept. 9. Microsoft has not said what the new product will be but has issued a teaser campaign with the tag line, “Say goodbye to laser.” Some bloggers speculate that the company will unveil a new kind of mouse.

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