Appeals Court: Apple’s iPhone Does Not Infringe on Motorola’s Patent


Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has scored yet another victory in the ongoing smartphone patent war against Motorola, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld an earlier decision made by the International Trade Commission that Apple’s iPhone does not infringe on technology covered by a Motorola patent, reports Reuters.

“We’re disappointed in this decision and are evaluating our options,” said Motorola in a statement via Reuters. As noted by Bloomberg, although Motorola is now owned by Google, the patent-infringement case originated with a lawsuit that was filed before the company was acquired by Google for around $12.5 billion in 2012. In 2010, Motorola sued Apple over its alleged infringement of six smartphone-related patents, including one that disables the touchscreen to prevent inadvertent phone interaction when it is near the user’s head.

However, the ITC ruled last year that Apple’s iPhone did not infringe on any of those patents. Google’s Motorola was subsequently able to take one of its patent-infringement claims to the appeals court. According to the ruling posted on the U.S. Court of Appeals website, the patent in dispute is titled, “Method and apparatus in a wireless communication system for controlling a delivery of data.” The court only addressed one claim in the patent that covered a method for “controlling a delivery of data from a fixed portion of the wireless communication system” to the applications on a “subscriber unit.”

As stated in the court’s decision, “The Commission found that the accused mobile devices imported and sold by Apple did not infringe claim 12 of Motorola’s U.S. Patent No. 6,272,333 (333 patent) and that Motorola failed to establish the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement. Because these conclusions of the Commission were supported by substantial evidence, we affirm.”

Although Motorola initiated the litigation against Apple before Google acquired the company, this case is widely considered to be another proxy battle in the larger war that Apple and Google are waging against each other as the makers of the two most popular mobile operating systems. Apple uses the iOS platform for its mobile devices, while the majority of other smartphone vendors use Google’s Android operating system.

Google has repeatedly used the approximately 17,000 patents and 7,000 patent applications that it acquired from Motorola for lawsuits against its rivals. Similarly, Apple and several other tech companies created a consortium known as Rockstar in order to acquire about 4,000 patents from the bankrupt Canada-based telecom giant Nortel for $4.5 billion in 2012. As previously reported by Bloomberg, Rockstar filed patent-infringement lawsuits against Asustek, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung (SSNLF.PK), and ZTE in October of 2013. All of the companies named in the lawsuits are major manufacturers of Android-based smartphones.

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