Motorola Sues Apple Over Mobile Patents

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Motorola hit Apple with two patent lawsuits on Wednesday alleging the wireless used in the Mac, iPhone, and iPod touch violate 18 different patents it owns. The company also filed a complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission in hopes of blocking the import of any Apple products that infringe on Motorola patents.

According to Motorola’s filings, Apple’s 802.11 Wi-Fi antenna designs, use of Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) technologies, GPRS technologies, proximity sensing, location based services, application management, synchronization, application management, and wireless email implementations all violate its patents. Motorola also claimed that the patent violations include the App Store and MobileMe, not just Apple’s hardware products.

The two companies were involved in “lengthy negotiations,” according to Motorola, ahead of the lawsuits but Apple wouldn’t agree to pay any licensing fees. The number of patents in Motorola’s portfolio is fairly long, too.

“We have extensively licensed our industry-leading intellectual property portfolio, consisting of tens of thousands of patents in the U.S. and worldwide,” commented Kirk Dailey, corporate vice president of intellectual property for Motorola Mobility.

As part of its lawsuits, Motorola is asking the court to block Apple from using its patented technology and to force Apple to pay for compensation for the patents it claims were used without proper licensing.

“After Apple’s late entry into the telecommunications market, we engaged in lengthy negotiations, but Apple has refused to take a license,” Mr. Daily said. “We had no choice but to file these complaints to halt Apple’s continued infringement. Motorola will continue to take all necessary steps to protect its R&D and intellectual property, which are critical to the company’s business.”

Apple has not commented on the pending litigation.

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Legal action is what separates the winners from the losers. Those that have not found any luck in the MARKETPLACE look to change their fortunes in the COURTROOM. The losers sue and the winners get sued.
I give you this example here.

Or this better version here.

Kodak, Nokia



meh! another fanboy upset because the Apple borg might not get away with it this time…



I don’t know what was in your coffee this morning but it sure didn’t wake you up properly. Its obvious that the lawsuit is targeted at Motorola because of its commitment to the Android OS. Motorola announced 4 new phones at CTIA and have been one of the major contributors to Androids rise in popularity. Apple is suing to try and slow down the growth of Android by going straight for the hardware manufactures. Android is now the most popular OS in the United States, having surpassed Blackberry and the iPhone OS and soon will be the most popular in the world. I’m just stating facts. Secondly according to you the Losers sue and Winners get sued? How do you explain Apple suing HTC? It would lead me to believe that Apple is afraid of a very young and talented hardware manufacturer that recognizes how to blend design and usability just like Apple does.


Apple is probably balking not at licensing fees but at being forced to cross-license its own patent portfolio, much as what’s going on with Nokia.


Everybody’s suing each other.  Microsoft is suing Motorola, Motorola is suing Apple, Apple is suing HTC and Nokia and Apple are suing each other. It seems it’s all over functionality. It looks like smatphones are going thru the same growing pains as the computer market did in the early days.


Read again, Apple is not suing Motorola, it is the other way around.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

jfbiii nails it. It will be interesting to see whether and how long Apple can get away with using others’ inventions without license because it wasn’t able to come to terms on those licenses.

In my mind, it mostly puts Bryan’s claim that Apple is the only one reaping profits in mobile in question. Without technology that requires a license, Apple isn’t doing squat in mobile. Perhaps Nokia and Motorola are being incredibly unreasonable in what they are asking. But they still have the right with their patent to deny its use to a competitor. Compulsory licensing only works through the court, and could end up being very, very expensive as Apple found out from Mirror World. How Apple avoids treble damages from willfully infringing Nokia’s and Motorola’s patents is beyond me.


On treble damages my guess is that Apple has been negotiating and has been willing to pay money for licensing (and that other firms have cash-only licensing terms) but sees demands for cross-licensing non-cash terms as unreasonable. Perhaps if they can demonstrate they have been negotiating in good faith treble damages won’t be applicable?


I know you hate Apple, but your comments lack basic knowledge of the patents at issue. When you give your patents to a standard body so that your technology will become the standard you can’t charge whatever you want. I am not sure about Motorola, but Nokia gave it’s patents to the GSM standard’s body. It gained by having other’s give patents to the standard’s body and by not having to spend big dollars fighting other competing technologies. As a consequence, Nokia must license the patents it voluntarily made available to the standard’s body to other member’s under reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. It is bound by the license under which it gave the patents. That is the primary benefit of being a member of a standard’s body. You have access to relevant patented technology at fair, reasonable and equal terms. In addition, you don’t have to start from scratch and come up with your standard.

Apple is such a member of the GSM group. Apple’s complaint with Nokia is that Nokia wants to discriminate against Apple by charging it more for licensing fees then Nokia charges other members of the GSM Group and in addition require Apple to cross license patents that are not part of the standard’s body when Nokia doesn’t require other members of the group to cross license patents that are not applicable to the GSM standard.

I do not know how strong Motorola’s suit against Apple is (as I have not read it and seen evidence), however, Apple’s argument against Nokia seems pretty solid.

As far as Mirror World goes, you really want to live in a world where those flimsy patents are held valid? The bottom line is the patent system stinks. Patent attorney’s purposely make patents as broad and non-descriptive as possible. Often the goal is to try and not have somebody else be able to locate your patent so that in the future if somebody else comes up with a product arguably falling under the umbrella of the patent you can sue. Further, average people with no technological background are called to sit on such juries to decide the facts in such cases.

I challenge you to go find a patent representing cover flow without cheating and looking up the actual patent. Impossible, yet that is what a company who wants to bring a product to market must somehow do. Apple bought the idea of cover flow from somebody else. Further, it was just awarded a patent on practically the same idea as it lost the first round in the lawsuit with MIrror World (a company that makes nothing and bought the patent from a professor strictly to sue). My guess is Apple will unfortunately have to settle that lawsuit for a lot of money but far far less then the jury verdict dictates. Rooting for Mirror World is silly though and shows how your dislike for APple blinds your judgement.

Perhaps Nokia and Motorola are being incredibly unreasonable in what they are asking. But they still have the right with their patent to deny its use to a competitor. Compulsory licensing only works through the court, and could end up being very, very expensive as Apple found out from Mirror World.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Terrin: I think we need to find out what the recourse is for a perceived violation of a promise to an industry or government standards group to license patents in a non-discriminatory way. I’d bet that doesn’t bail Apple out of the infringement lawsuit. More likely will result in a sanction by the industry body against Nokia that’s negligible compared to what the court awards. Question the ethics of it all you like, it’s still not a defense for willful patent infringement. grin Perhaps Nemo can chime in with some case law that parallels this situation. I’m not sure he’ll find much, as this is exactly what makes Nokia/Apple so damned interesting. Get your popcorn.

For the record, I’m as against what happened with Mirror World as much as I’m against the patent lawsuit Apple dropped on HTC. Software and business method patents are a marginally bad concept that has ballooned into a very expensive problem. However, if Apple is going to go to the Steve Jobs quote about vigorously defending its IP, Apple kinda has it coming when it doesn’t license what a court decides it should have.

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