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Google says Apple ripped off Motorola's patented messaging technology

With its crushing court defeat of Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), Apple Inc. (AAPL) won a key battle in its fight against Google Inc. (GOOG), but the war remains far from over.

I. Motorola Hit Back

Previously, Google (via its subsidiary Motorola Mobility) and Apple had fought each other to a standstill with Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge moonlighting in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). Posner twice dismissed the pair's suits/countersuits with prejudice arguing that both side effectively just wanted to ban the other's products and wasn't looking for legitimate damages.

That stalemate left Google with limited options.  However, it is now pursuing its biggest and best opportunity to hurt Apple -- a U.S. International Trade Commission complaint.  With the complaint Google is looking to hit Apple hard, banning nearly every single one of its products, including all its best-selling devices.

The ITC independent investigates patent dispute claims.  And as most mobile device makers -- including Apple -- manufacture their products exclusively in China, its panel of judges essentially have as much power as a federal judge and jury, as they can order a blockade on imports -- an effective sales ban -- if they feel infringement occurred.  That's precisely the route Apple used to temporarily stifle the sales of Android phonemaker HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) in May.

Apple products
Google is seeking to ban virtually all Apple's devices [Image Source: Apple]

For its new complaint Google-Motorola was careful not to use one of its 3G or 4G patents, which may be illegal to sue Apple with, given that they were developed for industry standards.  Instead, Google-Motorola is using U.S. Patent No. 6,983,370, a broad patent that describes cross-platform messaging to a "plurality of messaging clients".  The patent was filed in 2001 and granted to Motorola in 2006 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Exhibit 27

Apple may be treading on dangerous ground, given how broad Motorola's patent is.  Its best bet may be to try to find cracks in certain Motorola claims and then try to challenge the patent on the grounds of invalid claims construction.  Otherwise it could find almost of its products -- the iPhone, most iPods, the iPhone, the iPad, and Mac computers -- banned from import into the U.S.

II. Vague, Yes, But Motorola Could Win

To be clear Google's patent is almost laughably ubiquitous -- it's basically claiming that any messaging client that uses Wi-Fi or cellular data connections is in violation of its patent.

But again, logic and reason have long since left town in patent land in the U.S.  

For example Apple's big win against Samsung in part came thanks to a pair of patents that were equally ridiculous, if not more so.  One patent was a design patent covering a broad array of smartphone shapes (rectangular with curved edges), while a second was the so-called "rubber-band" patent, which granted Apple exclusively rights to have its graphical user interface mirror a kind of commonly occurring natural phenomena (a transient effect).  That would be like if you patented making a graphical element move in a spiral.

In addition to the messaging patent, Motorola also is claiming iOS and OS X infringe on several other patents -- U.S. Patent No. 5,883,580 (COVERS: geo-tagging and time-stamping messages FILED: 1997 GRANTED: 1999); U.S. Patent No. 6,493,673  (COVERS: markup language for user messages and input FILED: 2000 GRANTED: 2002); U.S. Patent No. 5,922,047 (COVERS: processing control signals from multimedia/telephony apps FILED: 1996 GRANTED: 1999); U.S. Patent No. 6,425,002 (COVERS: interapplication message passing FILED: 1998 GRANTED: 2002); U.S. Patent No. 7,007,064 (COVERS: memory management for wireless communications FILED: 2002 GRANTED: 2006); and U.S. Patent No. 7,383,983 (COVERS: pausing messaging content FILED: 2005 GRANTED: 2008).

Nearly all of Motorola's current claims is built around broad messaging patents.
[Image Source: Scribd]

If you see a central theme it's because there is one -- basically Motorola has patents that cover virtually every single aspect of wireless messaging and it's looking to use that non-FRAND portfolio to punish Apple.

If Apple can win on such confounding patents, it would not surprise for Google-Motorola to potentially score a similar logic-defying win, assuming luck is in their favor at their day in court.

The ITC has voted to investigate the claim against Apple, so the filings are now on the public record and win, lose, or draw Motorola will at least have its day in court.

Sources: Scribd, U.S. ITC

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RE: ...
By BZDTemp on 9/21/2012 11:22:22 AM , Rating: 2
Not really.

Google is an innovator as opposed to Apple that is mostly about good integration and marketing. And also Google is the that is open to the world which is very different from Apple that do their very best to lock people to their platform.

Is Google perfect - No, but with Apple you don't need to look longer than their lack of USB port on their iPhone/iPad as a great example of them being dicks.

RE: ...
By Dug on 9/21/2012 11:56:36 AM , Rating: 1
Google an innovator?
You do realize they have bought over 115 companies and use their ideas to put into their software.
And you really believe that Google doesn't want to lock you into their platform? And they are open to the world?

You really need to go back in history and read about the cutthroat tactics Google has used over the years.
They have bought some very good software and completely ruined it for the rest of us by not doing anything with it.

RE: ...
By Reclaimer77 on 9/21/2012 12:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
I love all the examples and sourced evidence you provide for these claims.

Look I'll just put this in terms maybe you can understand: Google rocks your dumb face off.

RE: ...
By Dug on 9/21/12, Rating: 0
RE: ...
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/21/2012 3:40:55 PM , Rating: 5
If YOU are going to make claims, YOU need to back it up, don't expect others to do YOUR work for you...

RE: ...
By kdogg4536 on 9/22/2012 5:16:19 AM , Rating: 3
Google bought up those 115 companies therefore they are now Google's property. Those ideas that you refer to as "theirs" are no longer "theirs" as Google now owns them. They can do with them as they see fit. WTF is your problem. Companies, software, IP get purchased all the time.

Google is just fighting fire with fire.

By cutthroat tactics, must be referring to whipping out the old wallet.

I wish all software companies locked me into their platform the way Google offering compelling products that I have yet to directly pay a single cent for.

RE: ...
By Solandri on 9/22/2012 2:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
And you really believe that Google doesn't want to lock you into their platform?

What makes you think Google wants to lock me into their platform? There are a bunch of other market apps out there if I don't like Google's Play store. Heck, if Apple wanted to make an App Store for Android, they could. Or I can download and install any app I find on any website via my phone's browser. Or if a friend gives me an app on a CD or I write a custom app, I can easily sideload it because Android devices appear as simple USB storage devices when you connect them to a computer.

And they are open to the world?

They are so open both Amazon and Barnes & Noble took the Android OS source code, made custom proprietary versions, and released very successful tablets based on those custom versions of Android. A healthy user community takes the source code and provide upgrades to the latest version of Android even to devices whose manufacturers and carriers have refused to upgrade. How much more open do you want?

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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