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Motorola goes after Apple’s 1990s programming patents

Motorola has struck once more against Apple with a legal action to cancel out many of its patents, and we predict that there is going to be a bloodbat


Published: 21 October, 2010


Motorola has struck once more against Apple with a legal action to cancel out many of its patents, and we predict that there is going to be a bloodbath in suits against Apple until it comes to terms with every cellular business out there. In this one Motorola has asked a court to invalidate 11 iPhone-related patents.

Motorola first got a recent legal action from Microsoft, going after it for patents on Google’s Android, using a similar approach, using 1990s programming breakthroughs as the basis for the action. While Motorola was thinking about that one, it decided that while it was at it, it should join everyone else, such as Nokia, in claiming that Apple was infringing its core cellular patents. We gave the opinion last week that at some stage Apple had to settle, because its patents would almost certainly not stand courtroom scrutiny and this would almost certainly lead to Apple having to offer patent barter deals, which would prevent it from charging royalties for its Gesture Touch innovations.

But Motorola has already gone for the jugular filing a complaint with a US District Court in Delaware seeking to invalidate 11 patents awarded to Apple and NeXT Software, both companies founded by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

Motorola says that Apple is relying on these patents to chase down Android, and not simply its touch patents. It’s odd but these mostly relate to the Object Oriented and component programming shifts that happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s, whose patents are based on a lot of prior knowledge and are almost exhausted. The Apple patents were all filed in the early 1990s and include operating system innovations and I/O request handling as well.

This is a company that has almost no R&D budget trying to go back to its heyday when it broke real programming research, and use those patents to defend what it’s doing today. It doesn’t look real, and like its gesture touch patents, has never had to stand up to courtroom test, and may not. Motorola is confident that it does not infringe on them anyway, but whether it does or not, going after the complaints at source is a great way for it to remind Apple that by making these complaints it risks losing its edge in phone technology completely.


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