Motorola sues Apple over patent infringement

Motorola, one of the major telephone handset makers, has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission accusing Apple of violating 18 patents. In an announcement on the Motorola website, the company said that Apple included technology in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and certain Mac computers that was developed by Motorola.

Motorola claims that it attempted to license technology to Apple, and engaged in "lengthy negotiations" with the iPhone maker, but a deal could not be reached. The company alleged that Apple "refused" to pay for a license.

The complaint was filed against Apple in two U.S. districts: the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida. It covers technologies such as wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.

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

"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."

Motorola's lawsuit is just the latest in a long list of complaints involving smartphones before the International Trade Commission. For those keeping score at home, Microsoft sued Motorola last week, Oracle sued Google over Android, and HTC and Apple fought it out over patents.

 The Gaurdian has created a visual representation of the current lawsuits in the mobile industry

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24 Comments

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Never mind the rest of them, Nokia (8) and Kodak (5) seem to be the busiest of the lot!! This is absolutely absurd, what the hell must all this litigation cost the companies involved? At the end of the day all this action ends up being paid for by the consumer! Ludicrous.

I'm tired of patent lawsuits. Not because of the merits--I'm sure MOST of them are perfectly reasonable. It's the journalists that write about them. More often than not, journalists and bloggers sneer at IP legislation and don't exactly go indepth to help readers understand whether a lawsuit has merit.

The MS suit against Motorola? I'm vaguely aware of something about Exchange and this or that, but the actual text detailing what patent is being infringed and to what extent? Not one single major tech site has bothered to explain it.

Meanwhile, comments fill to bursting with people who mock this or that party in the lawsuit, shaking tiny fists at the existence of patents in the first place, ramble on ignorantly about what should or shouldn't qualify for patent status, and smugly go back to their lives, waiting for the next opportunity to have a flimsy opinion.

And these people vote.

Joshie said,
I'm tired of patent lawsuits. Not because of the merits--I'm sure MOST of them are perfectly reasonable. It's the journalists that write about them. More often than not, journalists and bloggers sneer at IP legislation and don't exactly go indepth to help readers understand whether a lawsuit has merit.

The MS suit against Motorola? I'm vaguely aware of something about Exchange and this or that, but the actual text detailing what patent is being infringed and to what extent? Not one single major tech site has bothered to explain it.

Meanwhile, comments fill to bursting with people who mock this or that party in the lawsuit, shaking tiny fists at the existence of patents in the first place, ramble on ignorantly about what should or shouldn't qualify for patent status, and smugly go back to their lives, waiting for the next opportunity to have a flimsy opinion.

And these people vote.

Agree. I'd like the articles to better explain the exact issue with the patent in question, and maybe a direct link to the patent from the Patent Office. Of course, I could always research it myself, but it would be better journalism to give a condense yet thorough article on it. Though I still think that some patents might have a lot less merit than others.

Joshie said,
I'm tired of patent lawsuits. Not because of the merits--I'm sure MOST of them are perfectly reasonable. It's the journalists that write about them. More often than not, journalists and bloggers sneer at IP legislation and don't exactly go indepth to help readers understand whether a lawsuit has merit.

The MS suit against Motorola? I'm vaguely aware of something about Exchange and this or that, but the actual text detailing what patent is being infringed and to what extent? Not one single major tech site has bothered to explain it.

Meanwhile, comments fill to bursting with people who mock this or that party in the lawsuit, shaking tiny fists at the existence of patents in the first place, ramble on ignorantly about what should or shouldn't qualify for patent status, and smugly go back to their lives, waiting for the next opportunity to have a flimsy opinion.

And these people vote.

Totally agree...

Software Patents have no merit. Full Stop. The current Patent System is put in place by lawmakers who have no idea about what software actually is. They are still "wowed" by how great some pieces of software can be, so they think that it *must* be patentable because it's so fantastic. The truth is, software is just maths. There is nothing special about software. Give a college student enough time, and he could write Windows all by himself. That may be a lot of time, but in the end it's just writing down mathematical equations into a form that computers can execute. And remember, even currently issued software patents don't cover the actual "language".

Things like better functioning mechanical machines, or better RAM chips that requires millions of pounds of *real* R&D are good for patents. This is because developing these types of products requires working with the unknown. We don't know how well this compound will work with that compound, without trying. Will a car that is using this compound for it's pistons work better when accelerating at 50m/s^2 than the normally used material? Will this special compound be able to hold data better than normal silicon?

Software is different. There is no such thing as "R&D" in software. It's just putting numbers into a computer to get it to do something. I *know* that I can make a computer do *anything* I want it to do. Even things that haven't been thought of yet, I *know* that it can be done. We just have to tell it to. So there is no such thing as Research in software.

A good simple example: get a school calculator to calculate 1+1. You've basically programmed a computer to do something. That's hardly patentable. Telling a small computer (i.e. a smartphone) to go fetch email while you're moving, is the same thing. Nothing special - it's just a few more numbers.

I compare software to scripts used for actors in theatre. It just tells them what to do. You can't patent a play or a show!

One day the patent system will collapse in on itself. It's only a matter of time.

I once heard someone mention that if someone coded a piece of software to make a computer do *everything* it can possibly do, in ever order possible, could that be classed as prior art for all future bits of software? Now that's food for thought

Edited by rtire, Oct 7 2010, 9:26pm :

rtire said,
*snip*

You wrote a very long post that essentially did exactly what I criticized posters in these threads of doing. You write like you don't know what you're talking about. From the very beginning when you kick it off as just being math.

So what if programming is math? Of course it is. A crapload of things that are patentable are math. Anything that requires physics and engineering is ultimately math. Any construction of anything that has to have stability ultimately comes down to math. Engines are math, alloys are math. I'd challenge you to come up with a patent you'd approve of that ISN'T ultimately mathematically derived.

Why is this? Because math is a tool. It's a language for interpreting and handling the world around us. Even the languages we speak are formulaic. Subject->Verb->Predicate and the many variations spawned from this can be ultimately broken down to formulas with variables (fill in the blanks) sorted and organized by notation (punctuation). Just because you use a tool to achieve an end doesn't mean all credit goes to the tool.

At some point before the tool even entered the equation, inspiration was there. Some sort of clever revelation, a new way of doing something, or a new way of using new tools (Exchange sync as we use it today could not have existed with simply computers and math--it depended on the existence of a wireless network and software-driven devices that rode it). Someone who comes up with a new idea for a way to make devices interact that had not previously been thought of, someone who lays the foundation of a whole new approach to an industry, has invented something.

Invention is USING TOOLS in new ways to achieve previously unattainable results. Everything else is DISCOVERY. Discovery is not patentable, but Exchange sync was not discovered. It didn't already exist, just to be found by a Microsoft employee flying a kite with a smartphone hanging by the string.

Please put more thought into this. You don't understand invention. You don't understand math. You don't understand what you're talking about.

Joshie said,

You don't understand invention. You don't understand math. You don't understand what you're talking about.
I beg to differ. You don't understand software.

As I said, it boils down to "working with the unknown". You said it yourself:

Invention is USING TOOLS in new ways to achieve previously unattainable results.

I agree with you here. However *everything* IS ALREADY attainable with a computer, with regards to what a software patent would cover. And anything that isn't already attainable, is patentable (which wouldn't be classed as a "Software Patent"), such as a faster CPU design, or better RAM or motherboard chipset. Software CANNOT make a computer do something that was impossible to do before.

An engine is not maths. Yes, an engine was designed with maths to produce a better design, however it is not maths itself. Software IS ACTUALLY maths. You even made this point above:

It's a language for interpreting and handling the world around us. Even the languages we speak are formulaic.

A lot of countries are agreeing with my arguments above. Australia have recently passed a law outlawing software patents. An the EU, while it currently does allow some software patents, they take a much stricter stance on the matter. Unlike the USA, which is an awesome country in many aspects, the current patent system there is just down right silly. Open your eyes and look how bad it's got...

Edited by rtire, Oct 8 2010, 6:16pm :

rtire said,
I beg to differ. You don't understand software.

As I said, it boils down to "working with the unknown". You said it yourself:


I agree with you here. However *everything* IS ALREADY attainable with a computer, with regards to what a software patent would cover. And anything that isn't already attainable, is patentable (which wouldn't be classed as a "Software Patent"), such as a faster CPU design, or better RAM or motherboard chipset. Software CANNOT make a computer do something that was impossible to do before.

An engine is not maths. Yes, an engine was designed with maths to produce a better design, however it is not maths itself. Software IS ACTUALLY maths. You even made this point above:

A lot of countries are agreeing with my arguments above. Australia have recently passed a law outlawing software patents. An the EU, while it currently does allow some software patents, they take a much stricter stance on the matter. Unlike the USA, which is an awesome country in many aspects, the current patent system there is just down right silly. Open your eyes and look how bad it's got...

There's nothing you can make atoms do that they can't already do, so advances in quantum computing should be public domain, by your logic. Everything can be broken down to fundamental elements.

An engine was designed with math and IS math. You can calculate the necessary durability and ideal molecular make-up of a material to achieve an ultimate goal in engineering, and then fill in the blank with that material.

With math, scientists can predict what kind of material they will produce before they produce it. Everything follows fundamental rules, and because of that, every result can be predicted. Every scientific experiment starts with a hypothesis--a guess that is being confirmed or contradicted by the results of that experiment. This is absolutely no different from a programmer putting together lines of code anticipating the resulting function of the program--and oftentimes their guesses are contradicted, and we have bugs.

This is why I challenged you to come up with a patent you would approve of that couldn't ultimately be broken down into a simple, predictable, formulaic language, which is exactly what you criticize software for being.

Every great invention was predicted with reasoning before it was put together. Just because something is 'possible' and simply waiting for someone to 'make it happen' doesn't make it any less an invention, and any less someone's intellectual property.

asellus said,
It sucks to be sharp. It's great to be Kodak.

Counting the Motorola suit, Apple has the most arrows pointing at them.

Melfster said,
Notice The picture up above Nokia is suing everyone and Microsoft not being sued... Go figure.

Well Nokia was(is still?) the juggrnaut of the cell phone world. They would have the most patents to go after people with. And with Motorola creating the cell phone I'm sure they had plenty Apple should have paid for also.

I don't know much about patents, but I think it is stupid to be able to patent something like wireless email and many others. What should be patented is the way to do it, I wonder if that's the problem here.

robert_dll said,
I don't know much about patents, but I think it is stupid to be able to patent something like wireless email and many others. What should be patented is the way to do it, I wonder if that's the problem here.

It's because we're not being told the entire story. It's likely details of a specific implementation were patented.

After Apple was instructed to pay up to $625.5 million to Mirror World for the same thing, the blood had started dripping, and the sharks are circling in the water. Killer Whales after the Humpback....but no sign of Captain Ahab.