Motorola doesn't violate three Apple patents, as the iPhone maker suggested, according to an initial ITC ruling. The final verdict is yet to come, as is more legal drama.
Motorola is celebrating an
initial triumph over Apple, after a U.S. International Trade Commission administrative
law judge issued an initial determination finding that Motorola Mobility has
not violated any of the three patents listed in an October 2010 lawsuit Apple
filed against the Droid maker.
Scott Offer, Motorola
Mobility's senior vice president and general counsel said in a statement
following the determination:
We are pleased with today's favorable
outcome for Motorola Mobility. Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years
to develop technology and build an industry-leading intellectual-property
portfolio. We are proud to leverage this broad and deep portfolio to create
differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience.
The determination isn't the
final say, however, as in March, the ruling will be reviewed by a six-member
ITC panel that will announce the ultimate ruling. However, according to Zacks
Equity Research, it's unusual for the ITC panel, which has the power to block device
imports, to contradict a judge's determination.
The Apple lawsuit focused on
two touch-screen-related patents and one relevant to the operating system.
Motorola has likewise filed
a patent-infringement suit against Apple-accusing it of stepping on the toes of
at least 18 of its patents, some of which pertain to antenna design and
connectivity technologies-and that's expected to get under way in April.
"We believe that the
loss at the hands of Motorola will not deter Apple from continuing with its
aggressive strategy of suing other handset makers, particularly the ones who
use Android platform, going forward," Zacks analysts said in a Jan. 16 blog
. "Although the results of its lawsuits have been mixed, Apple has
succeeded in thwarting Android's strong growth in recent times, based on robust
While Android market share
surpassed 50 percent in the United States-helped by a delay in the release of
the iPhone 4S-2011 was a rocky year for Motorola. The company has seen its
fortunes rise and fall, claiming 36 percent of smartphone market share in 2006
but slipping to just 1 percent by the third quarter of 2009, according to NPD
Group figures. Its adoption of Android certainly helped it, with its share
rising to 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, though-as Android similarly
emboldened competitors Samsung and HTC-its share fell to 12 percent during the
third quarter of 2011.
In September, Google
, namely for its robust intellectual-property portfolio,
which includes more than 17,000 patents, many for 3G and 4G capabilities.
Google's own more modest portfolio has meant that its manufacturing partners
using Android have been paying royalties to Google-rival Microsoft-which owns a
patent Android borrows from-on each Android handset they activate.
"The competitive landscape
for smartphones, which has been reshaped by Apple and Google, has ultimately
forced every major handset provider through a major transition," Ross Rubin,
executive director of Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, said in the
statement on the Apple-Android horse race. "For many of them, 2012 will be a
critical year in assessing how effective their responses have been."