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10/6/2010
04:43 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Motorola Hits Apple With Patent Suit

Motorola has fired the latest salvo in the battle over mobile patents, alleging now that Apple is infringing on 18 different Motorola patents.

Motorola on Wednesday announced that it has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and other devices infringe on Motorola patents. The lawsuits were filed in the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida.

Based on what Motorola claims, the patents cover a range of technologies mostly to do with wireless and radio antenna behavior. That includes technology related to WCDMA, GPRS, 802.11, and antenna design.

It also applies to software. Interestingly Motorola singles out Apple's MobileMe and iPhone App Store as two products that infringe on Motorola intellectual property. Those patents concern wireless email systems, proximity sensors, software application management, location-based services and how devices can sync with computers.

At this point, nearly every smartphone maker is suing its competitors over a wide range of wireless technology patents. Apple is embroiled in lawsuits with RIM, HTC, Motorola, and Nokia. Microsoft recently sued Motorola.

With the fierce competition between these companies for consumer and enterprise dollars, pricing pressure, and near full saturation of the mobile market, finding ways to wrangle every last ounce of profit from products -- and their patents -- is becoming an important strategy.

Motorola is asking the ITC to prevent Apple from importing the questionable products into the U.S. It is also looking for compensation, though it didn't spell out how much.

Kirk Dailey, corporate vice president of intellectual property at Motorola Mobility, said, "Motorola has innovated and patented throughout every cycle of the telecommunications industry evolution, from Motorola’s invention of the cell phone to its development of premier smartphone products. We have extensively licensed our industry-leading intellectual property portfolio, consisting of tens of thousands of patents in the U.S. and worldwide. After Apple’s late entry into the telecommunications market, we engaged in lengthy negotiations, but Apple has refused to take a license. 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."

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