Apple Devices Found to Violate One Motorola Mobility Patent

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 01:30 PM

(Adds patent that was infringed in second paragraph.)

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. won a partial U.S. International Trade Commission judge’s ruling in its bid to block imports of Apple Inc.’s devices including the iPhone and iPad tablet computer.

ITC Judge Thomas Pender said Apple violated one of four Motorola Mobility patent rights. The patent relates to Wi-Fi technology. The judge’s findings are subject to review by the six-member commission, which has the power to block imports that infringe U.S. patents.

Motorola Mobility filed the complaint Oct. 1, 2010, amid public statements by Apple that phones running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system copied the iPhone. Android has become the most popular platform for mobile devices. Cupertino, California-based Apple has filed an ITC complaint against HTC Corp., another Android-handset maker.

Patent lawsuits over smartphone technology have been filed over four continents, with a dozen at the ITC alone. Companies are fighting for an increased share of a market that researcher Gartner Inc. said increased 47 percent in the fourth quarter.

Apple lost its own ITC case, filed Oct. 29, 2010, in which it sought to block imports of Motorola Mobility’s Android phones. Apple is appealing the decision.

Google Acquisition

Google, based in Mountain View, California, agreed to pay $12.5 billion to buy Motorola Mobility after the case was filed and will inherit the dispute once the deal is completed. European and U.S. regulators have approved the acquisition, which is under review by Chinese authorities.

Google, better known for its Internet search engine, has cited Motorola Mobility’s trove of 17,000 patents as a driver behind the acquisition. The company, whose handset customers were being sued by Apple and Microsoft Corp., has said a strong portfolio may help curb some phone and tablet litigation.

Ending Unwanted Dialing

In the case against Apple, two of the four Motorola Mobility patents relate to Wi-Fi. The other two are for a way the server tracks which applications are available, and a sensor to determine the proximity of a person’s head to the phone so it doesn’t accidentally hang up or dial unwanted numbers.

Apple, which had $108.2 billion in sales last year, has denied infringing the patents and challenged their validity. Motorola Mobility is seeking an import ban of Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad tablet computer, Apple TV and Mac computers.

Apple had 29 percent of the smartphone market in 2011, compared with less than 8 percent for Motorola Mobility, according to researcher Strategy Analytics. When it comes to operating systems, the Android platform had 55 percent, Apple held 29 percent, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone had about 3 percent.

Android was introduced on handsets to further Google’s advertising business and is provided free to device makers including Motorola Mobility, Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC. Apple’s operating system, which it developed, is available only on Apple products.

The case against Apple is In the Matter of Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-745, and Apple’s case against Motorola Mobility is In the Matter of Mobile Devices and Related Software, 337-750, both U.S. International Trade.

--Editors: Bernard Kohn, Steve Walsh

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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Tuesday, 24 April 2012 01:30 PM
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