Motorola Files Second Patent Infringement Complaint With ITC Against Apple

Motorola Mobility filed another complaint against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Aug. 20 alleging patent infringement. This follows another complaint filed in July that the ITC may act on Aug. 24. While the ITC could halt the import of Apple iPads, iPhones and Macs into the United States, that option appears to be unlikely.

Motorola has filed a second patent infringement complaint against Apple, just one month after an initial complaint filing that theoretically could result in Apple iPads, iPhones and other products being banned from importation into the United States.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released details Aug. 20 of the second complaint by Motorola Mobility, now a Google unit, against Apple, which was filed with the ITC on Aug. 17. It lists seven patents held by Motorola that it alleges Apple has infringed upon 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, other Motorola patents at issue deliver such features as location reminders, phone and video player functions and email notifications. Motorola said in a prepared statement that it filed the second complaint because Apple has been uncooperative in negotiations aimed at licensing Motorola's patents to Apple to settle the matter.

"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," the company stated.

The Motorola vs. Apple case is one of a number of lawsuits that mobile technology companies are filing against each other. A jury in San Jose, Calif., is scheduled to begin deliberations Aug. 22 in a case in which Apple is suing Samsung for allegedly violating several of its patents in the design of Samsung smartphones and tablet computers. Apple vs. Samsung is considered by some to be a "proxy case" where Apple's ultimate target is Google, which developed the Android mobile operating systems that is a rival to Apple's iOS platform and is used in Samsung, Motorola and other brand name devices.

The latest filing comes about one month after the ITC ruled on infringement claims by Motorola against Apple regarding seven other patents. The commission found Apple to have violated one of those patents and is expected to rule on a penalty for Apple on Aug. 24. The ITC could ban the import into the U.S. of any Apple products manufactured in Asia that are found to have infringed Motorola's patents. However, one patent expert considers that unlikely.

The patent that the ITC found Apple to have infringed upon in July is a "standard-essential" patent, which is basically a patent that has become an industry standard, said Brian Love, an assistant professor of law at Santa Clara (Calif.) University.