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Motorola Sues Apple 176

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sue-sue-sudio dept.
rexjoec writes "Just a week after Motorola Inc. (MOT) itself became the target of legal action by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), it sued Apple Inc. (AAPL) for the alleged infringement of 18 of its patents. Motorola subsidiary, Motorola Mobility Inc. also filed patent suits against Apple in federal court in Illinois and Florida."
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Motorola Sues Apple

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  • Just great!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udoschuermann (158146) on Monday October 11, 2010 @11:54AM (#33859906) Homepage

    This is great! If this madness continues, companies will spend 90% of their revenue filing or defending dozens of lawsuits, get nothing done anymore, and will clamor at the doors of congress to save them from the patent madness they once thought to be such a great idea.

    Or maybe we're all doomed.

    • Re:Just great!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:00PM (#33859976)
      In the end we'll all pay more for phones because these companies can't learn to get along. Who knows, they may each have patents for the same things issued by the infallible USPTO.
    • Business as usual... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:01PM (#33859990) Journal

      I think we're seeing something different here. Company A gets sued by Company B, because B wants a revenue stream from a stupid patent (especially since it's rather obvious that B is struggling in the mobile market pretty badly). Company A, also struggling, doesn't want to have to pay for the eventual licensing out of its own funds, so it sues Company C to get a revenue stream that it will in turn use to pay B with (and maybe get a bit of extra besides). Eventually everyone is suing everyone else to, well, pay everyone else.

      It all looks good on paper, though, and it'll confuse the hell out of shareholders enough to make them look profitable.

      • by McNihil (612243)

        or more concisely in the long run: "Passing the buck" with a helping heaping of "what goes around comes around."

      • by v1 (525388)

        It all looks good on paper, though, and it'll confuse the hell out of shareholders enough to make them look profitable.

        Well at least somebody wins... (the lawyers)

        • Well at least somebody wins... (the lawyers)

          Indeed. I worked as a Paralegal in the Bay Area for awhile back in the day doing IP work. Our lawyers would try and talk some sense into the clients, but they were so often consumed by self-rightous fury that they couldn't be reached. So we went forward knowing it was a poor case from the get go, because that's what we were paid to do. How many coders have been paid to contribute code to a project they knew fromt eh start was doomed to fail? You can only po
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gtirloni (1531285)
      When things are just bad enough, nothing changes. I'm also in favour of complete madness. Perhaps when we hit the bottom, these companies will be the ones advocating against software patents or at least to reform the current system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somersault (912633)

        You think by then that the people with all of the money (ie the lawyers) are going to let these poor companies change the laws that made them all the money in the first place?

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Yes. Between all of the big players there's more than enough money to buy off enough politicians to push through such a law. Just give them an election period.
          • The point was that they wouldn't have enough money when "we hit the bottom" as the GGP was talking about. It's a hypothetical situation. Hopefully they will realise before then though.

      • Re:Just great!! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062.gmail@com> on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:39PM (#33860386)

        You assume there will be intelligent or semi-intelligent people in position to construct a new structure from the ruins of the current system. Ha! The current crop of the body politic is on the fringe of being in touch with understanding the common sense view of the majority. Their primary concerns are about power as it relates to a political office, not the concerns of either the People, Constitution, or the corporate interest.

        If the United States loses a centrist, reasonable approach to politics then little will fix the problem. Republicans cheer at the failure of our economy for they feel it will bring them into power and they will "fix the problem". Democrats (for disclosure, I am registered Democrats) will then perform that same acts so they then credit republicans with failure and as the two parties tear apart the country, the middle and lower classes will melt into something between indentured servitude or at the least, little chance at a comfortable life as less then 5% of the population enjoys "The Game".

        To stop the madness of A suing B who sues C who sues A and B who sues ... would require the ability of government to respect the "right to fair trial" while revamping laws relating to patents and IP...

        • by dan828 (753380)
          I think you have it a bit wrong-- Most Republicans don't cheer the economy tanking any more than Democrats cheered the war going badly in Iraq. Just because the party leadership cynically uses misfortune to their political advantage doesn't mean that they happy that it happened.
        • reasonable approach to politics then little will fix the problem.

          As if a centrist approach is practiced now. NOT!!!

          Falcon

      • The problem with this is we underestimate a) just how bad complete madness can be and b) how long it will take us to reach it. It feels as though we've been sliding towards madness for a good long time now, and I've given up on thinking that we've reached a point at which people will decide that things have gotten bad enough that they need a bit of changing.
      • This is just a recapitulation of the early days of radio broadcasting. The big players fought each other tooth and nail, and eventually formed a patent cabal to stifle innovation and keep smaller competitors out of the marketplace. Lawsuits based on the shakiest imaginable IP flew like arrows at Thermopylae, and at least one pioneering figure in wireless tech was driven to suicide [std.com].

        That was the better part of a century ago. The patent system was abused by incumbents to protect their turf, people bitched a

    • Yup. I'm going out to buy more popcorn.

    • by Quothz (683368)

      companies will spend 90% of their revenue filing or defending dozens of lawsuits, get nothing done anymore

      Except that giant corporations love time- and money-wasting processes, as long as everyone has to play. It limits competition by forcing startups to have years and millions of dollars handy just for idiot patent suits before they can even think about revenue.

    • by nomadic (141991)
      This is great! If this madness continues, companies will spend 90% of their revenue filing or defending dozens of lawsuits, get nothing done anymore, and will clamor at the doors of congress to save them from the patent madness they once thought to be such a great idea.

      Actually, as someone who has been involved in large-scale litigation, while legal fees for these sorts of things seem huge, when measured against the operating costs of the corporation as a whole they're not especially large. I mean a sin
      • I mean a single 30-second national TV ad costs a few hundred thousand dollars. For that you could get a month or two of steady work out of a top law firm.

        And if you're on the receiving end of a lawsuit and you lose you can be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars. For small and medium businesses, as well as the self-employed, that can be the deathblow of the business.

        Falcon

  • by mystik (38627) on Monday October 11, 2010 @11:54AM (#33859908) Homepage Journal

    It's like the Mutually-Assured-Destruction scenario in the mobile/wireless world!

    • Re:Armageddon! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Carewolf (581105) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:09PM (#33860094) Homepage

      No, it seems destruction is not assured, so it is not MAD, unfortunately it appears to be MAX - Mutually Assued Crosslicensing :(

      • by beelsebob (529313)

        How is that unfortunate? Would you rather have no mobile phone vendors, or lots of mobile phone vendors all able to produce phones with lots of useful features and good UIs?

        • by vadim_t (324782)

          It's unfortunate because after they figure out a deal, cross-licensing will happen between the big industry players. They'll arrange a deal with each other and form a patent pool that will prevent anybody else from entering the market, and ensuring anything groundbreaking has a hard time appearing. And in a few years the same thing will happen again. And so on.

          I'm waiting for enough unreasonable companies to come along that the entire industry implodes on itself due to litigation that leaves everybody screw

          • by beelsebob (529313)

            Yes you're right – the mobile industry did that very effectively against Apple, they stood no chance of moving into the market and turning it on its head.

        • It's unfortunate because the big wigs Samsung, LG, RIM, Motorola, and Apple sue each other to discourage any more potential HTC like companies from entering their market.
      • by WarlockD (623872)

        Whatever. As long as I see some nukes flying and Bruce Willis trying to be an actor, I'd pay money to set at the courthouse.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Begun, the patent wars have?

      There was already a well-established patent Cold War, is this the end of it?

    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:44PM (#33860448)
      Oh, if only this were true. If only Patentgeddon were finally here, and Mutual Destruction was truly Assured. If only the big players would unleash their full arsenals on each other, in wave after thoughtless paroxysm of retaliations, until the silos were all exhausted and the landscape were littered with piles of the bodies of slain lawyers. Perhaps then, the starving, horribly disfigured mutants who were never part of the original conflict, yet somehow managed to miraculously, accidentally survive, could try to eke out a peaceful subsistence living, at long last free of the Shadow of Mordor.

      Or something like that.
  • Sustainable? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday October 11, 2010 @11:58AM (#33859946)

    Is this really sustainable for the industry? It seems like every mobile company has patents that every other mobile company is either stepping on or tiptoeing around. I have to think that by this time next year all the major companies involved will have set up a meeting somewhere and agreed to cross license with each other. All these patent suits are just wrangling for a better position in the agreement that they all know is coming eventually. Of course, such an agreement would make it next to impossible for any new companies to enter the market, which I'm sure none of the current manufacturers would be sad about.

    • Re:Sustainable? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:10PM (#33860106) Journal

      It seems like every mobile company has patents that every other mobile company is either stepping on or tiptoeing around

      Nope, most companies have cross-licensing agreements. Apple is in trouble because they didn't bother to set these up when they entered the market. Nokia fired first and now everyone else in the same position has decided that they can get some money from Apple, or force them out of the market.

      • Re:Sustainable? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:52PM (#33861144)

        Motorola and Nokia have a distinct advantage over Apple too - as they (and their partners) invented the vast majority of the technology that makes cell phones work at all, and Apple never paid.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjwx (966435)

        Nope, most companies have cross-licensing agreements. Apple is in trouble because they didn't bother to set these up when they entered the market

        Not really, Apple didn't have anything of value so Nokia et al. asked for cash, this is not unusual as many manufacturers such as HTC, LG, Huewei and so forth pay cash because they dont have a sufficient patent portfolio. Only the top tier R&D companies like Sony Eriksson, Motorola and Nokia have a no fee cross licensing agreement.

        The way it works is, Manu

    • by cowscows (103644)

      It'll eventually shake itself out, the industry will consolidate to just a couple big players, the barrier to entry will be too high for anyone new to enter the market, and us consumers will have fewer, crappier options. Booyah.

  • by macwhizkid (864124) on Monday October 11, 2010 @11:59AM (#33859956)

    A diagram in the Guardian from last week [guim.co.uk] nicely illustrates the insanity that is the mobile phone litigation business. With the vortex of lawsuits surrounding both hardware and software, it's amazing that anybody is able to innovate at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by themusicgod1 (241799)
      techdirt [techdirt.com] has this picture, together with 2 other much more complete and accurate ones.

      It's way, way more tangled than the Guardian picture would lead you to believe

      (Disclaimer - I help develop and support software that controls hardware made by pretty much all those companies, but my opinions are my own and do not represent them or my customers/etc)
    • by DCMonkey (615)

      1000 Internets to anyone that recreates that diagram in the style of a WOPR simulation.

  • Patent wars (Score:5, Informative)

    by vagabond_gr (762469) on Monday October 11, 2010 @11:59AM (#33859958)

    It's pretty hard to keep the graph [nytimes.com] up-to-date.

    • I saw the chart for the first time last week, when (I think) it was just a day or two old. It was missing at least one brand-new lawsuit even then. At this rate, it looks like it could become somebody's full time job gathering information about these wireless lawsuits.
    • by whyde (123448)

      No it's not, since it will eventually degenerate into an fully connected graph. Just find one on Wikipedia or Wolfram, and link to that picture instead.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      That one is innacurate (and way too simplified), use this one [flickr.com] instead.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:01PM (#33859986) Homepage

    Regarding the unfolding mess, here's what info I've gathered:

    And if someone wants to get an article started on this new lawsuit, go ahead:
    Motorola_v._Apple_(2010,_USA) [swpat.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Getting sued by other major cellphone makers for patent infrigment.

    Dumped into third place in sales by Google and Android.

    Defective hardware - botched antenna design, wonky proximity sensor, and glass casing problems.

    iOS woefully behind Android in features and ease of use.

    And Apple has stopped giving out their iPad sales numbers updates.

    At least they are doing better than Microsoft's colossal failure with the dead Kin and Windows Phone 7 OSes.

     

    • by RingBus (1912660) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:08PM (#33860082)

      Apple still has an army of fans in the media who will proclaim every new product as 'innovative' and 'amazing' regardless of the actually quality which will help less the blow of Android dominance. However there is now an air of acceptance from Apple fans that the iPhone is on its way to a Mac like marketshare and quite a bit of revisionist history of "Apple never wanted to dominate the cellphone market" rationalizing going on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Careful posting in Apple stories. There is an army of Mac/Apple zealots who will lash out with their mod points at anything remotely perceived as 'anti-Apple' and 'smite the unbeliever'...

        Crazy to think Slashdot has turned into a hive of Apple fanboyism. No one would have believed you 10 years ago if you would have told them what was to come.

        • Crazy to think Slashdot has turned into a hive of Apple fanboyism. No one would have believed you 10 years ago if you would have told them what was to come
          Indeed, what a long strange trip it has been since, "No wireless, less space than Nomad, lame."
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:46PM (#33861060)
          There's also an army of anti-Apple people who will up-mod anything tearing Apple apart. It's like a car with most of its weight at the front and back ends -- most of the time it balances out, but it does tend to go into a ditch a fair amount.
        • Careful posting in Apple stories. There is an army of Mac/Apple zealots who will lash out with their mod points at anything remotely perceived as 'anti-Apple' and 'smite the unbeliever'...

          I see that you've already been smitten with a +5 Insightful.

        • by crhylove (205956)

          Our species is barely less retarded than the other shit throwing primates. I'd have believed it, no problem.

      • Apple still has an army of fans in the media

        And Slashdot still has an army of anti-Apple zealots who will try to use anything against Apple.

        Falcon

      • Having widgets I can drop on my home screen is great. I love having everything I need at a glance on my WinMo phone (HTC Touch Pro2) and my Android tablet (X5A with Android 2.1). Calendar, appointments, alarms, messaging status, weather - all on a single screen without the need to click on little icons to bring up dedicated displays for each.

        .
        Not having to actually USE the phone to access those things (because they're the default, customized to my needs home screen) is the ultimate ease-of-use.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      Yea it is so ugly I just bought a new iphone 4 yesterday. IOS behind? I laugh at your silly remark.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Kin sure, but I hardly see WP7 as a "colossal failure" in any way. The software is only just out, the hardware isn't available yet, and unless you work for MS the odds that you've held even a prototype in your hand are damn low.

      Its launch day announcement has a huge number of phones signed up already - 5 launch devices in the US alone, and twice that around the world. When the CDMA version comes out there will be a bunch of new devices as Sprint and Verizon get in the game. The state of the app store is cu

  • A nice data visualization [amazonaws.com] will help

  • Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Monday October 11, 2010 @12:07PM (#33860060) Homepage

    These patents are absurd. We've debated the frivolousness of many patents here for a while, but a patent for "Receiver having concealed external antenna" is just laughable. It makes me wonder if there is a patent for have an non-concealed antenna.

    • Maybe it's for a 'Receiver having concealed antenna that suffers poor reception when held the wrong way'?? That would be a little more specific (and a touch less obvious) ;-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgd (2822)

      Why?

      For fifty years mobile phones had external antennas that drove people nuts.

      Someone figured out how to make the phone actually work with an internal antenna.

      They patented it.

      That's the whole point of patents.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        For years, people have been storing digital photographs outside of a camera... Kodak found a way to put them inside!

      • Re:Laughable (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:09PM (#33860672)

        Except prior art of on internal antenna is at least 40 years. Its not an innovation. Its an EXISTING AND KNOWN feature but crammed in legalese and put in conditions like "cell based receivers" so that the patent passes without adding any innovation to the world. Its your typical "narrow enough to pass but broad enough to do damage" patent that these companies specialize in for the sake of litigious action against competitors.

        The USPO's take on this is that the courts will work it out. Thanks guys for letting any patent go through and letting me, the end user of these phones, pay extra for all the laywering.

      • NO IT IS NOT (Score:4, Insightful)

        by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:12PM (#33860700) Homepage

        The "whole point of patents" was to enable someone to come up with an idea and have a brief exclusivity period so that they could get the idea to market.

        The whole premise of patents was that it ACTUALLY TOOK time to get ideas to market, and that an average person COULD GET THEM TO MARKET. Thus they would encourage INNOVATION by allowing small players a way to compete with already entrenched players, via innovation.

        Patents were not created so that giant mega-corporations could use them to gain further market share, they were SUPPOSED to be there for the little guy.

        The "whole point of patents" is totally meaningless in today's business world. Patents do not serve to encourage innovation, the limit it, because everyone and every company who has an idea has to spend enormous amounts of money just to see if their idea is already patented, and the only ones who can really afford it are the players who are already entrenched. It is not just software and IP patents that have this problem either. With facilities like mini-fabs and Alibaba.com, anyone who has an idea for a product can have it prototyped and have mini runs done of it overseas for very minimal cost. For many inventions It actually will cost more for you to get your patent investigated and filed, than it will for you to make your first 10,000 units and start selling them. How is this supposed to encourage rapid innovation again?

      • by cowscows (103644)

        Well if they patented their actual working internal antenna design, then I can understand that. But if they're claiming to own the very concept of an internal antenna, then that's just silly.

      • Someone figured out how to make the phone actually work with an internal antenna.

        Except portable radios have had internal antennas since the 1970s and least and they worked. Except Economists say copyright and patent laws are killing innovation; hurting economy [wustl.edu]. Study: Free Markets Superior to Patent Monopolies [mises.org].

        Falcon

    • As has been posted in another patent story, it's the claims that matters, not the title.

  • Old resentment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101)
    The transition from Motorola to Intel processors decided in 2005 by Apple may be another reason that encouraged Motorola to take legal action later on, when they could.
    • by tepples (727027)

      The transition from Motorola to Intel processors decided in 2005 by Apple

      ...happened after Motorola had already spun off its semiconductor division as Freescale in 2004.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Motorola was out of the picture by the time IBM had secured all three console's for its PPC/Cell chips and they dumped Apple as a customer.

      This case certainly has nothing to do with that ancient history.

  • If Moto spent as much time truly innovating products that were on the leading edge of consumer demand, as they once did, they would not be looking like losers now.

    Patents are only good IF YOU USE THEM IN YOUR PRODUCTS.

    Patent trolls don't have ongoing brand value.

    I loved the early Moto "flip phones" in the late 80s that were damn near indestructible, if bulky for a pocket.

    Then when they started to miniaturize their phones, my experiences led me to believe that they lost the good designers, because of all the

  • by PinkyGigglebrain (730753) on Monday October 11, 2010 @01:08PM (#33860664)
    MS: You know, we could "misplace" the lawsuit MS has going against you.
    Motorola: That would be great, but what would we have to do?
    MS: Nothing much, just mess with Apple a bit. We could do it ourselves but it would attract the kind of attention we don't want right now.

    First thing that when through my mind when I read the headline.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      MS: You know, we could "misplace" the lawsuit MS has going against you. Motorola: That would be great, but what would we have to do? MS: Nothing much, just mess with Apple a bit. We could do it ourselves but it would attract the kind of attention we don't want right now.

      I dont know why people think MS is against Apple Inc (and vice versa) they haven't attacked each other since Apple Computers died in the 90's. In fact MS moved to save Apple in the late 90's. Both MS and Apple know that Linux is the real

  • The more things change, the more they never do. I'm reminded of nothing so much as the great IP battles of yore, like Lotus and Ashton-Tate over "pull-down menus" (and the inevitable "throw-up menu" jokes); and how everyone with an ounce of sense thought the whole argument pointless, petty and stupid. The whole Xerox Star interface, WYSIWYG, F1 for context-sensitive help, a million other things where one company said "hey, that was our idea" and another company (often Microsoft), or sometimes the whole in
    • by russotto (537200)

      But today, we have companies who have the ability to patent "pull-down menus" or whatever other lame-ass, self-evident idea that comes their way.

      My favorite was one of Apple's, which described a typical GUI with hierarchical menus, "on a limited resource computing device". Evidentally "forgetting" that the "limited resource computing device" in question was a lot less limited in resources than an Apple //gs or an early Mac.

  • You know, I was waiting for something like this to happen - a giant software patent circle jerk. The ultimate irony is that the major players are defeating their own goal of trying to render F/OSS moot. I'd wager the fear of patent wars might actually be helping the free, open source movement. For example, OpenBSD developed a router/firewall redundancy protocol called CARP which is patent un-encumbered, free, and arguably better than the Cisco VRRP. For one, CARP is simple to setup and troubleshoot, for
  • Suing is how you say "hello" in the cell phone business.

    • Suing is how you say "hello" in the cell phone business.

      Can you sue me now? Good!

      Can you sue me now? Good!

      Can you sue me now? Good!

  • is of course when Apple sues Microsoft. Then we'll have an awesome threesome!

  • Motorola is extremely underrated on the list of evil companies. Look how locked down and not-at-all open their Android phones are, festooned with bloatware, and in many cases left to languish on antiquated versions of the OS.
  • Screw all these giant megacorporations making human life more miserable day by day. Poisoning the air, water, and earth, enslaving our children, completely controlling our media and pwning our political processes. The only real solution to any of this nonsense is to eliminate the corporation outright. This patent nonsense is just ONE aspect of the vile contempt the corporate model has for life and quality of life.

    But don't listen to me. Ben Franklin was much smarter than I am and had extremely harsh and

    • Ben Franklin was much smarter than I am and had extremely harsh and accurate things to say about patents in general. As did Thomas Jefferson about the banks that now own them all.

      Thomas Jefferson [monticello.org] started out against patents too, however his friend James Madison convinced him patents could be good.

      Falcon

  • When do we finally get to that point so we can stagnate and watch China surpass us?

    Perhaps then we will get a clue.. ( but i wont bet on it )

  • Already Apple is starting to bleed money thanks to the patent war on mobile devices. Most recently it lost a court case for a patent on cover flow and time machine [slashgear.com]

    "Programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life."

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