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Businesses Patents The Courts Apple

Summarizing the Apple-Android Patent Battle 126

FlorianMueller writes "Apple's patent dispute with Motorola is one of the biggest legal battles going on at the moment. Apple, which is also entangled in litigation with Nokia and HTC, recently beefed up its legal team, but it also keeps throwing in ever more patents. Apple made important court filings last Wednesday and Thursday. The bottom line: Apple now asserts 24 patents against Motorola, which uses 18 patents in claims against Apple. 21 of Apple's infringement allegations relate to Android, 3 to Motorola set-top boxes and DVRs. Motorola targets the whole range of Apple products." Mueller followed up the above article with an excellent visualization of how the patents, companies, and courts intersect.
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Summarizing the Apple-Android Patent Battle

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  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @01:57AM (#34470352) Homepage

    There was some confusion out there about the ITC staff (Office of Unfair Import Investigations, OOUI) report, and this quote from your post reflects them:

    Apple lost just about their entire claim against Nokia, when half the patents they were seeking to enforce were declared invalid by the FTC, and the rest dismissed as not being infringed.


    1. As I explained in this recent blog post [blogspot.com], Apple's ITC assertions against Nokia were split into two parts. The staff report that the press reported on in early December related to only 4 of the 10 patents Apple originally asserted against Nokia.

    2. That staff opinion is just an opinion, not a definitive dismissal. My Apple vs. Android chart does mention that some patents were dropped from the ITC cases between Apple and HTC: on pages 8 ("Move #7 - Apple drops 4 patents from ITC complaint against HTC") and 10 ("Move #9 -- HTC drops 1 patent from ITC complaint against Apple"). But the instances I mention in my chart were definitive partial terminations of those cases. The ITC staff opinion published a month ago on one Apple v. Nokia case is not definitive. It's an opinion and the ITC's Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) can agree or disagree with it. There have been many cases already in which the ALJ judge took decisions that were very different from the staff reports. I've seen a long list of cases in which the staff then actually appealed the ALJ's decision, which is clear evidence that decisions deviate from those staff reports quite often. The staff report is an opinion, and I don't mean to downplay the importance of the staff and its reports, but that is just not a dismissal of claims (let alone the invalidation of patents).

    3. Even if some patents lost before the ITC, they might (as my blog post mentioned under item 1 explains) still be enforced in a US federal district court. My chart makes that distinction in connection with the patents dropped from ITC cases. HTC's '183 patent is grayed-out from Move #9 on because it was only asserted in the ITC so far and they withdrew it. By contrast, Apple's '867, '131, '852 and RE'486 patents were only dropped from an ITC complaint but Apple does enforce them against Motorola now in a federal district court, so the patents are still alive.

    4. The chart this article refers to is purely about Apple vs. Motorola and Apple v. HTC. I'm going to do the same visualization for the Apple-Nokia conflict as well but it will be a separate document because otherwise things would become too complex to fit in a single chart. In fact, I already have that one in place for the most part, so it will become available pretty soon. (Also for Microsoft vs. Motorola and Oracle vs. Google, by the way.)

  • Re:Simple (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @02:05AM (#34470390)

    Because without their innovation and leadership no one would have come up with the idea of synchronizing a calendar wirelessly. Ideas are worth shit next to implementation. Patents are how parasites steal from the innovators.

  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @02:15AM (#34470422) Homepage

    I wasn't going to reply to someone who describes my hard work on this as leaving "taint", but here goes anyway ;-)

    You do raise an important point: cross-licensing. However, cross-license deals come in all shapes and forms. In a few cases the parties will be on an equal footing; in most cases one party will be considerably if not hugely stronger. In the latter case, a "settlement" will also be announced, but in economic and strategic terms, one party will end up losing.

    For now I'm rather skeptical of the impact the patent portfolios of the Android camp can have on their competitors. I gave a quick overview of the five strongest areas of Motorola's patent portfolio in this recent blog post [blogspot.com] and I also pointed out that Google makes a weak showing against Oracle [blogspot.com] because Google still hasn't countersued. When I wrote that blog post, Google had already had three months since Oracle sued. Now there's been almost another month and Google still doesn't seem to have found any patents with which it could build a serious counterthreat against Oracle...

  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @02:55AM (#34470598) Homepage
    symbolset, it's regrettable that after my facts-based reply you just go off-topic here with unclear and unspecified allegations. Instead of a pathetic attempt to smear, you should take a look at the patent portfolios in question. A lot of people believe Google is such a big company that it should own a lot of key patents, but it owns relatively few patents and most of them are related to search engine technologies. Also, even though you mentioned HTC, you won't seriously believe that Apple would lose sleep over HTC's patent portfolio...
  • by FlorianMueller ( 801981 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:19AM (#34470698) Homepage

    P.S. don't forget, for instance, that most of Apple's patents will be software patents (and therefore limited to the US)

    That's a misconception. Just look at these examples (including some of the patents Apple asserts against Android) [blogspot.com]. Also, consider that Apple sued Nokia in the UK as well (a couple of months ago) over 9 European software patents.

    whereas most of the Nokia/GSM/Motorola patents will be hardware patents,

    When I publish my PDF diagrams and analysis of the Apple-Nokia dispute, you'll see that the share of software patents among Nokia's patents is far greater than you believe at this stage.

  • Re:Summary: (Score:4, Informative)

    by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#34471020) Homepage

    Motorola knew apple were suing already, how do you think apple counter-sued so quickly, and then amended it with more complaints later in reaction to the suit motorola put forth.

    Nokia tried for years to work with apple in regards to patents (the iphone uses many many of nokias patents mainly to do with 3g and other wireless business), apple went fuck you to nokia thus the patent battle.

    Apple is the one playing hardball here, they are doing what any profit driven company does, tries to force the competition out, by any means possible.

    What alternative reality do you live in? NOKIA didn't believe the usual licensing fees were going to be enough from Apple and demanded a percentage of each device profits. Apple told them to take a long walk off a short pier and NOKIA about two years later realized they were screwed and went on the offensive. Apple counter sued. You can't counter sue if you in fact were the originator of the suing.

  • by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:50AM (#34471056) Homepage

    Apple lost just about their entire claim against Nokia, when half the patents they were seeking to enforce were declared invalid by the FTC, and the rest dismissed as not being infringed.

    It would be interesting to see Apple now try to enforce those patents declared invalid against Motorola et al.

    This all started when Apple refused to pay consortium of GSM patent holders fees that all other GSM manufacturers subscribe to, some how feeling the were above the law.

    You're delusional. Firstly, it's not the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) involved in the Nokia suing Apple and Apple counter suing case. It's the United States International Trade Commission [USITC).

    Source: USITC (pdf)

    http://www.usitc.gov/secretary/fed_reg_notices/337/337_701_notice04222010sgl.pdf [usitc.gov]

    READ THE DOCUMENT. The update gives the status moved between May 31, 2011 -- August 1, 2011.

    Research seems to be a difficult commodity to come by these days.

  • Re:Summary: (Score:5, Informative)

    by stiggle ( 649614 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @05:52AM (#34471254)

    Apple refused to share with Nokia and the other members of the GSM Alliance, so Nokia told them what the terms were to license those patents if you don't want to share. Apple protested these terms as being unfair and anti-competitive as Apple wanted the same terms as those who were willing to share without offering anything in return.

    Apple wants to use everyones technology without having to pay for it while refusing to share their own technology with those they are taking from.

  • Hardware v. Software (Score:4, Informative)

    by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @07:30AM (#34471644)
    Apple decided to move into mobile phones and required hardware to do so. Lacking any actual know how on making phones, like many companies they borrowed the hardware from other companies - Motorola. Motorola is used to licensing out their hardware patents. Motorola makes money on just about every phone sale through their hardware licensing. So Apple asked Motorola to license their technology, but not like everyone else. Apple asked Motorola to trade software patents for hardware patents. Motorola told them to piss into the wind. The only way they were getting Motorola patens, Motorola said, was to trade for other hardware patents or pay a licensing fee like everyone else. Apple took choice C - to use the hardware patents even without license so they could make their iPhone - which would not exist without the Motorola technology.

    The issue here boils down to this question: Are software patents in general worth the same as hardware patents. And of course the answer to anyone who knows anything about the subject is a resounding no. Hardware patents take billions of dollars to develop and millions of man hours in testing physical objects in a physical world. A software patent is an often unimplemented idea most often without a single line of code - vapor. Software patents often sound like this: "A system where a user can use a icon based interface to lookup information about his/her pet in real time with an image and a video of the pet in the same interface as the typing interface where the pet can see the user type". No - really - they are that dumb and ambiguous.

    So Motorola makes an antenna design that will work within solid concrete tunnels without requiring frequency modulation or signal attenuation at the cost of billions of dollars and millions of man hours, testing – certification – more testing, IC engineering, fabrication and design, so much time and effort that to even list what needs to be done would be exhausting - and Apple thinks a fair trade would be the patent that consists of the words: "A system where the user can click and drag through a list of music and select which songs to buy with a button that allows a user to listen to a preview of the song." - Seriously?

    Software patents should never exist. Apple should lose their ass for stealing Motorola technology even after Motorola said they could not use it. If you don’t like the terms of the deal –that means no deal! Not I just use their hardware patents anyway. Who the fuck acts like that? Is Apple a 5 year old? Then after stealing Motorola’s hardware they have the audacity to claim patent infringement? Justice would be well served if Motorola got a big chunk of every iPhone or other Apple device using their hardware without permission. A punitive amount too, not a happy negotiated amount. If the normal is %1 they should pay %10. If it’s %10 they should pay %50. Theft should not at the end of the day, be profitable for stealing technology!

    You cannot take without paying for it.
    You cannot trade software patents for hardware patents.
    You cannot make up your own rules if you don't want to play nice with your hardware vendor

    yes, the patent descriptions in my examples are fabricated, but they are still indicative of hardware patent vs. software patent. Don’t complain unless you also include the actual patents in question I’m just trying to illustrate the difference between software and hardware patents.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"