Google’s Motorola files new suit against Apple

August 20, 2012

Google’s Motorola Mobility division has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that features in the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s devices infringe on its patents.

According to Bloomberg, the company filed the lawsuit with the International Trade Commission and it includes a request for a ban on imports of the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.

The report said the complaint involves seven patents, including one that alleges Apple’s Siri technology infringes on a Motorola patent. The report also says that none of the patents qualify as “standard-essential” patents, which cover technology that must be incorporated into an invention to comply with industry standards. Courts set the licensing rates for those patents and the Federal Trade Commission and others have argued that there should be no import bans on products that violate only these standard patents.

The suit shows Google is not easing up on its patent battle with Apple and Android smartphone makers. The dispute has played out in suits from both companies in courts across the globe, most notably in the case between Apple and Samsung that could come to an end this week.

This is Motorola’s second complaint against Apple. A ruling on the company’s first complaint is expected later this week. Patent blogger Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents said in his post on the case that a preliminary ruling by an ITC judge held that Apple had only infringed on one Motorola patent — a “standard-essential” patent that Mueller said is “less likely to result in an actual import ban.”

Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which closed in May, was seen to have been motivated in part by the desire for the company’s extensive patent portfolio. Prior to the acquisition, Google did not have as many patents as other companies of its age and prominence, and has spent a lot of money and effort buying or bidding on patents from older technology companies.

Both Apple and Android smartphone makers have scored small victories worldwide, but have yet to make any real progress in getting current devices or software blocked in a meaningful way. For example, as Mueller noted, a German court ruled that Apple had to stop using the push notification features in its iCloud service in that country. Apple has also won two injunctions against Motorola technology, he wrote, but Motorola has managed to work around those infringing features.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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