A patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Google’s Motorola Mobility unit against Apple in August before the U.S. International Trade Commission has been dropped without comment, according to a published report.
“Motorola Mobility reserved the right to refile claims against the iPhone maker, and said there had been no agreement between the two companies,” according to an Oct. 2 story by Bloomberg News. Spokespeople for Google and Apple did not comment on the development.
The dropped case, which was filed against Apple Aug. 17, listed seven patents held by Motorola that alleged infringement by Apple in products such as the iPad, the iPhone and various Mac computers, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. One of the patents describes technology “that allows an audible user input to be converted into a text string,” which would appear to describe Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant feature introduced with the Apple iPhone 4S.
Besides Siri, the other Motorola patents that were in the case involved features such as location reminders, phone and video player functions and email notifications. Motorola had said that it filed the complaint because Apple has been uncooperative in negotiations aimed at licensing Motorola’s patents to Apple to settle the matter.
Meanwhile, other earlier patent-infringement claims by Google’s Motorola unit and Apple against each other continue to be pursued.
One of those, in which Apple alleges that Motorola Mobility failed to license some of its patents, is scheduled to begin Nov. 5 in a federal court in Madison, Wis., according to Bloomberg.
What could be most intriguing about the Google Motorola move to drop the second infringement case against Apple is that maybe, just maybe, it portends some kind of progress between the two companies in finding ways to stop their court fights and come to solid licensing agreements for their respective intellectual property.
In August, reports circulated that Google’s and Apple’s top executives had been meeting in private to resolve some of those issues, but no specific deals have yet surfaced. The discussions between Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook were reported to include key topics such as the mobile patent disputes that have had the two companies at odds for much of this year so far. Such negotiations could involve cross-licensing deals for their innovations.
The now-dropped lawsuit is part of what has been an escalating patent-infringement fight between Google’s Motorola unit and Apple as the companies continue to battle for the huge mobile market.
In just the last few months, the two companies have been pulling away from past partnerships that had helped them both. Apple has removed Google’s YouTube and Google Maps apps from its latest iOS 6 mobile operating system for its devices, while Google has introduced Siri-like voice activation services for its Android mobile operating system, which is gaining developers and market share and becoming a keen competitor against Apple and iOS. Google is even bringing out a version of its voice services for iPhones and iPads to take on Apple in its own backyard.
The Apple-Google battles follow Google’s development and the widespread and growing popularity of its Android mobile operating system, which is in direct competition with Apple’s iOS and products.
According to a July report from data analysis firm Chitika, the race between the two mobile operating systems is evening up as Android development is perhaps finally catching up to iOS development in terms of the interest of app developers from around the world.
Google bought the Motorola Mobility unit in May for $12.5 billion as it continues to build up its power and holdings in the battle for a bigger chunk of the mobile marketplace, which continues to grow annually.