Sunday, August 19, 2012

Google's Motorola files suit against Apple in the first direct shot in the legal war

Apple has gone after Android OEMs such as Motorola, HTC, and Samsung (and vice versa), but not after the big honcho, Android creator Google. Now, however, with Motorola in Google's fold, that has changed.

Motorola is now officially part of Google, and on Friday, Google’s (new) Motorola Mobility division filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, D.C.

The actual documents won’t be available on the ITC’s website until Monday. However, both the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch claim to have acquired information about the filing. Motorola (and therefore, Google) is accusing Apple of infringing on seven of its patents, and is seeking a ban on the import of iPhones, iPad, and iPad touches into the U.S.

According to the reports, these patents are not FRAND (or standards-essential) patents. As such, it's possible this is the first real shot in the (thermonuclear) war between Apple and Android that could lead to cross-licensing of patents, and end to the conflict.

Although details are still not available, it's said that these patents in question involve location reminders, email notifications, video playback and Siri, the heavily-hyped (and heavily criticized) feature of iOS.

Those who appreciate both Android and iOS devices would love to see the battle exit the courtroom, and enter the consumer realm, where the buyer chooses the device or OS not because the other side of the aisle is not available due to legal issues, but because it is better.

Although this is a Motorola filing, the fact that Google owns Motorola could force Apple to end its disputes against Google's other Android partners, as well.

In a statement, a Motorola spokeswoman said:

"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."

When Google bought Motorola, it also acquired the (far) elder company’s 17,000 patents (and 7,000 pending applications). It has almost made it quite clear since then that the patents were a major reason for the acquisition, as Google, youthful as it is, has few patents of its own it can use in a defensive strategy against companies like ... say ... Apple.

Google's Android OEMs expressed concern over the move, while at the same time praising the Internet giant for the patent acquisition. Since then, Google has made it clear that Motorola will be run as an independent entity. Still, with this shot across Apple's bow, it looks like the two smartphone giants are finally at (direct) odds.

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