The smartphone wars enter the courtroom

Oct 12, 2010
Tech

The battles over iPhone vs. Android vs. BlackBerry are making things interesting for consumers. They are also good for patent attorneys. In the latest chapter, Motorola last week shot across Apple’s bow with three patent infringement suits filed in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. It was Motorola’s first action […]

The battles over iPhone vs. Android vs. BlackBerry are making things interesting for consumers. They are also good for patent attorneys.

In the latest chapter, Motorola last week shot across Apple’s bow with three patent infringement suits filed in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. It was Motorola’s first action in the growing patent infringement derby.

Greg Sandoval reported in CNET that Motorola has accused Apple of violating 18 patents.  Motorola claims that Apple has infringed on its patents with the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and some Mac computers.

Reuters said Moto’s complaints have to do with Apple’s MobileMe service and its software application store regarding patents that cover wireless email, proximity sensing, application management, location-based services and technology for synchronizing multiple devices.

In one complaint Motorola, taking a lead from competitors’ suits, asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate Apple and bar the U.S. sale of the infringing products.

“After Apple’s late entry into the telecommunications market, we engaged in lengthy negotiations,” said Kirk Dailey, Motorola Mobile’s vice president of intellectual property. “But Apple has refused to take a license. We had no choice but to file these complaints to halt Apple’s continued infringement.”

Revenge time for Motorola

Patently Apple described it as “revenge time” for Motorola, the inventor of mobile phones, which has taken a drubbing at the hands of latecomer Apple. The blog provides details on the suits.

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In recent weeks, companies with a dog in the mobile market have been filing suits left and right.

Richard Waters in Financial Times quoted Horacio Gutiérrez, Microsoft’s chief intellectual property lawyer, as saying the spate of actions is a result of the collision of the cellphone and computing worlds.

Waters wrote: “Apple faces a lawsuit from Nokia over its iPhone technology and has taken legal action of its own against the Finnish cellphone maker. Apple is also part of a wider legal challenge to Google’s Android smartphone operating system, having filed a lawsuit against handset maker HTC over its use of the software. That echoes Microsoft’s action against Motorola over its use of Android software and Oracle’s action against Google over the alleged use of its Java technology in Android.”

Waters noted some analysts have described the legal maneuverings as tactical, as companies fighting for leadership in the new market look for ways to stall their competitors or add to their costs. “The head of one large tech company, who declined to be named, warned that the thicket of lawsuits could slow the development of the smartphone business,” he said.

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