Technology patent lawsuits feel more irrelevant all the time. In an attempt to retain market dominance, Apple has filed a counter-lawsuit against Motorola, claiming that several of its mobile devices violate Apple patents, specifically where it relates to smartphones using multitouch touchscreen displays. The Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BakFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm were specifically mentioned in the filing. Apple seeks a ban on the sale of these products and all associated revenue Motorola has made from them.
At a 2009 financial conference, Tim Cook, COO of Apple, warned that the company was about to start suing: “we like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does.” His threats were not idle.
Apple claims that Motorola copied the iPhone, violating six patents, most of which relate to multitouch. Patently Apple sums up the patents here.
Lawsuit, counter lawsuit
None of these patents are related to the lawsuit Motorola filed against Apple. Likely knowing it was about to be sued–Apple sued HTC earlier this year–Motorola lobbed a preemptive grenade in October, accusing Apple of violating 18 of its own patents. Motorola’s complaints center on technology related to GPRS and Wi-Fi technology, along with WCDMA (3G) wireless communication and wireless antenna design; other alleged infringements concern Apple’s MobileMe cloud-based subscription service and Apple’s App Store. Read a full breakdown of the suit here.
“Motorola has innovated and patented throughout every cycle of the telecommunications industry evolution, from Motorola’s invention of the cell phone to its development of premier smartphone products, said Motorola Mobility corporate VP Kirk Dailey, in a statement. “After Apple’s late entry into the telecommunications market, we engaged in lengthy negotiations, but Apple has refused to take a license. We had no choice but to file these complaints to halt Apple’s continued infringement.”
Microsoft is also suing Motorola over smartphone patents, wishing to halt all sales of Motorola devices. In fact, almost every mobile service or device maker is suing or being sued by some company. Here’s a chart.
There are no signs of slowing ahead. Like a Cold War arms race, almost every tech company is furiously trying to hold its ground by stockpiling patents to use against the competition.There are also a growing number of companies sprouting up which exist solely to buy, sell, and use patents to sue companies. Is there any end to this? Nothing is being accomplished and if anyone does win, it is consumers who may lose.