updated 06:38 pm EDT, Mon August 20, 2012
Seven patents asserted cover entire Apple product line
Fresh details have emerged in Motorola Mobility's latest US International Trade Commission complaint, the latest escalation in the company's patent war with Apple. The new complaint was filed by attorneys at Quinn Emanuel, the firm that previously represented the Google-owned company and is currently representing Samsung in separate battles with Apple. The seven patents listed span Apple's entire product line, including both Mac and iOS devices, and cover text messaging, Siri, and location services.
The first patent, number 5,883,580, covers "geographic-temporal significant messaging." The technology covers time- or location-specific messages, to be delivered when the user approaches or enters a specific area. The iPhone 4 and 4S are accused of infringing this patent through text messaging and location services.
Patent number two, number 5.922,047, regards an "apparatus, method and system for multimedia control and communication." Attorneys point to descriptions for "communications and control systems for multimedia," which is likened to Apple's "remote" application, AirPlay, and the general multimedia controls in the iPhone video application. The iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and both the second- and third-generation iPad are seen by Motorola as infringing.
Patent number 6,425,002 addresses an "apparatus and method for handling dispatching messages for various applications of a communication device." The technology covers message filtering so that only relevant applications accepts (and dispatches) messages. As with patent number two, iOS devices newer than the iPhone 3GS are viewed as infringing.
Motorola's patent number 6,493,673 covers a "markup language for interactive services and methods thereof." US Patent office text describes this filing as providing a "prompt element including an announcement to be read to a user, and an input element that allows an audible user in put to be converted into a text string." The iPhone 4S is the only device claimed to be infringing, due to its Siri feature.
Apple's iMessage is targeted in a reference to patent number 6,983,370, which addresses a "system for providing continuity between messaging clients and method therefore." The '370 patent covers synchronization of messaging across multiple devices. Essentially, Apple's entire current product line is said to be infringing- the iPhone 4 and 4S; the iPad 2 and current-generation model; and the Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air. This patent is the only one to have been asserted in prior legislation, and Motorola claims Apple must be at least aware of the patent through monitoring the Motorola versus Microsoft case from the Western District of Washington.
The sixth patent, number 7,007,064, covers a "method and apparatus for obtaining and managing wirelessly communicated content." This patent is viewed as covering the photos application and possibly the video application as well, and may address wireless synchronization and application installation in iOS 5 and greater. The entire currently-shipping iOS device line is reported in the claim as infringing.
Apple's AirPlay is accused of violating patent 7,383,983, regarding a "system and method for managing content between devices in various domains." Specifically, the '983 patent covers pausing content on one device and resuming playback on another device. Apple's entire currently-shipping iOS product line, including the original iPad, is on the complaint for the seventh asserted patent.
Patent analyst Florian Mueller thinks Motorola may have "picked its strongest patents before, and is now suing over patents that it previously considered less strong than others." As evidence, Mueller points out that Motorola has attempted to assert "more than two dozen different patents against Apple, which it preferred over its other patents, including the seven it pulled out now."
Given history, the ITC will likely open the investigation of this complaint before the end of September. The suspected completion of the investigation and hearing commencement is likely to be in the first half of 2014.