Last week, the fear of an Xbox import ban was strong. Motorola's patent dispute had been validated by an International Trade Commission judge, with a recommendation of blocking all new imports. It all came down to the 6-member ITC panel to either approve of deny the judge's recommendation and, in grand government tradition, they managed to do neither.
Instead of making a decision, they pushed it back to the judge to look again and reconsider his findings. It appears that one of two things is happening here. The first possibility is that the commission is made entirely of cowards. They might not want to be on the bad side of either Microsoft of Motorola's parent company, Google. While the ITC is, theoretically, in charge, Obama's Chief Technology Officer is a former Microsoft exec and Google's products are slowly taking over the federal government. Getting on the bad side of these companies could end up making their own lives harder.
On the other hand, the ITC is currently investigating Google's Motorola division for fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms. Microsoft accused Motorola of using their patents to bully other companies, like in the licensing agreement that they pitched to Microsoft. The ITC has taken this claim seriously, launching an investigation into Motorola's licensing terms across the board to look for bullying. This investigation could certainly change the outcome of the judge's finding, so pushing the decision back on him might be a good decision.
We are expecting to not hear back from the judge until almost the end of the year, meaning for at least the holiday season, the Xbox 360 will be safe in the US market.