Apple Scores Another Victory Against Motorola, Cleared Of Patent Theft
December 19, 2012

Apple Scores Another Victory Against Motorola, Cleared Of Patent Theft

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

When the iPhone launched in 2007, it was met with fair amount of criticism and skepticism. As it turns out, when you remove a physical keyboard from the equation and rely only on one large piece of glass and a scant amount of buttons, a few problems tend to emerge. For instance, if the entire screen is touch sensitive, how can you make a call without pressing buttons with your ears?

Though it was absolutely necessary in order to have the phone work as it should, Apple´s implementation of the proximity sensor seemed to be a thoughtful and futuristic addition to the overall package.

A few years later, Motorola launched a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the iPhone was infringing upon Motorola´s patents.

Yesterday, an ITC judge ruled for the second time that patent no. 6,246,862 (or ℠862), is in fact, invalid. Therefore, Apple cannot be held for infringement.

This ℠862 patent is titled "Sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device,” and works as previously described. According to AppleInsider, Apple´s iPhone uses a much more sophisticated technology than the one described in Motorola´s patent.

Motorola understandably disagrees with this new ITC ruling. Speaking to Bloomberg, a Motorola spokesperson said: “We´re disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options.”

In August, the ITC found that Apple was not guilty of other 3G related patents which Motorola claimed were infringed. The commission then ordered Judge Pender to revisit this issue and determine if Apple had infringed on the ℠862 patent. This is the second time Judge Pender has ruled that Apple has not violated this patent.

Apple has carefully selected the companies against which they lob these kinds of attacks. While it remains an unspoken threat, Apple has been steadily going after Google and their Android mobile operating system. Google, on the other hand, purchased Motorola Mobility (and their stash of 17,000 patents) for $12.5 billion last year and set their sights directly on Apple.

According to Florian Mueller of the oft-cited Foss Patents blog, this purchase has yet to pay off for Google.

Mueller has called the litigation record between Google´s Motorola and Apple thus far a “disaster of gigantic proportions”.

Motorola is also duking it out with Microsoft in a Seattle court, a battle in which they´ve experienced a similar track record.

“Its leverage against Microsoft at this stage is precisely zero, and against Apple there's only one patent being enforced in one jurisdiction: the push notification patent in Germany,” writes Mueller.

“With Motorola's ITC case against Apple now also being in bad shape (though not 100% lost yet, as I explained), it's extremely hard to see what the point in the whole Motorola Mobility deal was,” he adds.

Judge Pender will make his full determination public once Apple and Motorola have a chance to redact portions of confidential information from the filings.