Do No Evil. Tell that to the little boys and girls and grandmas who might miss out on their shiny new iDevice thanks to the latest happenings in patent wars. Google, through its newly acquired subsidiary Motorola Mobility, has filed a patent claim against Apple in the International Trade Commission alleging Apple’s products infringe on seven of Motorola’s patents. The end goal of this complaint is a ban on the import of iPhones, iPads, and Macs into the United States. (Apple products are manufactured in Asia, mainly China, and must be imported into the United States, despite Apple being an American company. Hence they are vulnerable to import bans.)
Motorola, or Google for that matter, didn’t provide very many details on exactly which patents it is out to protect aside from mentioning the patents relate to features such as “location reminders, e-mail notification, and phone/video players”. However, Motorola was quick to point out that it first tried to reach a license agreement with Apple and is only resorting to this filing as a last resort after talks failed:
We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations.
It is worth mentioning that the patents Motorola is asserting this time around are not industry standards, so they aren’t governed by the same “fair licensing” rules some of Motorola’s other patents are. In other words, Motorola doesn’t have to license them to anyone for any price, if it doesn’t want to, although Motorola is obviously trying to put the blame on Apple by saying Motorola tried to license the patents but Apple was uncooperative.
While Motorola is the attack dog in this particular case, it is pretty clear to any third-party observer Google is the real master here. Yes, Google does claim Motorola is being run as an independent company but it is highly doubtful Google had absolute no say in Motorola’s decision to file a claim against Apple. Some people, like myself, feel Google is simply giving Apple a piece of its own medicine. However, it is a valid point that until now Google has primarily stayed out of these patent wars and, historically speaking, never goes on the patent offensive. Maybe Google execs feel Apple has backed them into a corner and it is time to fight back. Or maybe Google has gone over to the dark side. Who knows. Let’s see what happens.
[via Bloomberg | Image via unknown]