Motorola Mobility Hits Apple With Another Patent Claim

The smartphone patent wars show no sign of settling down.
Google's Motorola Mobility subsidiary broadened its legal battle with Apple Friday by filing a second patent infringement claim with the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The complaint claims Apple has infringed on seven Motorola patents that cover mobile phone features, including Apple's Siri voice assistant, location reminders, a phone/video player, and email notifications. The allegedly infringing products include the bulk of Apple's consumer hardware offerings: iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, the third-generation iPad, Mac Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air.

Motorola filed its initial patent claim against Apple in 2010. A preliminary ruling in that claim was issued in July, indicating that Apple infringed one Motorola patent. But the patent is deemed to be an essential standard, which is likely to limit Motorola's ability to ban the importation of relevant Apple products. A final ruling is expected Friday.

"We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple's unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers' innovations," a spokeswoman for Motorola Mobility said in an emailed statement.

[ Read Apple's War Against Google: Time For New Tactics. ]

Apple's willingness to settle is presently being tested: Bloomberg on Monday reported that the CEOs of Samsung and Apple plan to discuss whether they can resolve separate patent infringement claims that each company has leveled against the other before that case goes to the jury for deliberations.

During Apple's Q2 2012 financial call in April, CEO Tim Cook said that negotiated settlements in its various Android-related lawsuits might be possible."I've always hated litigation, and I continue to hate it," Cook said. "We just want people to invent their own stuff. And so if we could get to some kind of arrangement where we could be assured that's the case and a fair settlement on the stuff that's occurred, I would highly prefer to settle versus battle."

To date however, there's been far more enthusiasm for battle than for settlement. Since late 2009, the major players in the smartphone industry--Apple, Google, HTC, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, Oracle, and Samsung, among others--have been suing one another in various venues around the world to protect their respective revenue streams and deter competitors. The smartphone wars have kept lawyers busy, if nothing else.

If the ITC, after its investigation, finds that Apple has infringed on this latest set of Motorola patents, the result could be a ban of the importation of certain Apple products. Such bans, however, are difficult to obtain and may be limited by promises Apple and Motorola have made to cross-license essential patents.