Motorola sues Apple for patent infringement

Motorola today filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that a number of Apple products infringe on 18 Motorola patents.

The legal landscape in mobile technology is getting a little bit crazy these days. Everyone is suing everyone, and keeping up with every claim and counterclaim is fast becoming a confusing endeavor. 

Today, Motorola decided to keep the legal party going when it filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that a number of Apple products infringe on 18 Motorola patents. Separately, Motorola also filed patent infringement lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Florida.

Overall, Motorola Mobility’s three complaints include 18 patents, which relate to early-stage innovations developed by Motorola in key technology areas found on many of Apple’s core products and associated services, including MobileMe and the App Store. The Motorola patents include wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.

Motorola is requesting that the ITC commence an investigation into the use of Motorola patents in products such as the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod Touch, and even certain Mac computers. As tends to be the case with ITC complaints, Motorola is also looking to prevent infringing Apple products from being imported and sold in the US.

In a press release on the matter, Motorola VP Kirk Dailey explained that Motorola and Apple engaged in lengthy negotiations in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable licensing deal. But when Apple ultimately refused to pay Motorola licensing fees as they pertain to the patents in question, Motorola decided to take legal action. Now if this all sounds somewhat familiar, it's because this is strikingly similar to Nokia's own suit against Apple wherein the Finnish handset maker unsuccessfully tried to ink a licensing deal with Apple for Nokia technology. In its defense, Apple claims that Nokia attempted to extract unfair and unreasonable terms from Apple on account of its success with the iPhone.

In any event, Motorola sure is keeping their legal department busy. Just a few days ago, Microsoft levied a lawsuit against Motorola over alleged patent infringement relating to its use of Google's Android OS in its handsets.

Lastly, and to help provide some context to the litigious mobile landscape, the Guardian yesterday posted an interesting graphic detailing who's exactly suing who. I've since modified the chart, somewhat crudely, to include Motorola's recent lawsuit against Apple.

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