Microsoft has been having a legal dispute over patent infringement with Motorola. Not that anyone outside of the companies really minded too much - this sort of thing happens all the time. However, a US Judge has now recommended that the imports of the two Slim models of the console (ie the only kinds they're selling at the moment) into the USA should cease and that existing stock should be banned from sale. OK, now we're paying attention.
Above: Xbox 360 Slim doing just fine in the US. BUT FOR HOW LONG?
Sound like it'll never happen? Well, the same thing has already happened in Germany, with only a temporary injunction placed on Motorola preventing the ban from being enforced. Sounds mental to us, but we haven't studied German law.
So what's going to happen now in the US? Well, the US International Trade Commission's Judge, David Shaw, has made his recommendation, which means the ITC now has to decide whether it agrees, or whether any amendments need to be made.
If the recommendation is deemed sound, that means the buck finally stops with some bloke called Barack Obama. He's the head of some... thing. What's it called? Ah yes - the Free World. The President may have to save Xbox 360. Or at least two models of it. We're guessing Microsoft is in the process of sending him an Xbox or five.
Above: "Oh, but Barack! I wanna play the one with the war in it again"
The two models deemed to infringe the patent are both the 4GB and 250GB Xbox 360 Slim versions of the Xbox 360, which use technology patented by Motorola related to 'secure wireless communication and transmission of video content between controller devices and game consoles'. We're not sure what that relates to exactly - in fact, no-one does outside of the case, as the companies have been keen to avoid releasing 'proprietary information' to everyone. And Microsoft wireless controllers clearly don't play video. But the patents were deemed to have been breached back in April, so that's not being disputed.
What is being disputed is exactly what the damage amounts to. Microsoft argued that no customers bought Xbox 360s instead of Motorola devices, but that fell on deaf ears. The judge recommended that Microsoft pay a bond of 7 per cent of the value of all imported but unsold Xbox 360 inventory. Motorola suggested it should be 100 per cent of the inventory value (they must be loving this).
Finally, to add insult to injury, when Microsoft argued that consumers would be forced to fall back on PlayStation and Wii consoles, the judge said that Sony and Nintendo were perfectly capable of meeting demand. Ouch.
So, despite the drama, we'd say it'll probably not end up with Xbox 360 being banned from sale, especially if President Obama has the final say. After all, think of all those angry voters...