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Will the Xbox 360 Be Banned in America?

That is one reason why a ban of Xbox 360 sales in America is unlikely to occur, because Motorola has an interest in profiting from a deal with Microsoft, and Microsoft has an interest in dealing to continue sales. A sales ban has already taken effect in Germany based on the same patent-infringement claim, putting pressure on Microsoft to concede the point and cut Motorola in for a piece of the action. That would be an appropriate outcome, assuming Motorola’s claim is legitimate.

Of course, the other prominent reason why a ban of Xbox 360 sales in the States is unlikely is political. An ITC ruling in August would place Obama in an uncomfortable position two months before the election. Which political impulse would prevail, and to what end? Obama’s anti-business sentiment could break either way, against Microsoft’s “greed” or Motorola’s. When you add in the likely response from young voters whose sense of right and wrong is governed by whether they get what they want, the good money is on Obama breaking against a ban.

All told, the episode demonstrates intellectual property theory, highlighting an issue of fundamental rights for a large and youthful segment of consumers. In an age of rampant media piracy through file sharing, intellectual property is under withering assault from those who ignore the role of the mind in production and focus only on scarcity. So the argument goes: if I take your bike, you no longer have it; but copying your idea deprives you of nothing. Only, it does. The idea is a value conceived and rightly owned by its producer. The idea would not otherwise exist, and its producer is entitled to control its disposal.

In practice, Microsoft acknowledges this with every sale, accepting money in trade for products which consist of more than circuits and discs. What an Xbox or game played upon one is, at root, is an idea. The material absent any mind applied to it would be worthless.