Google's Motorola Mobility division has filed a new patent-infringement case claiming that features on some Apple devices, including the Siri voice-recognition program, infringe its patents.
The complaint, filed with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), claims infringement of seven Motorola Mobility patents on features including location reminders, e-mail notification and phone/video players and seeks a ban on U.S. imports of devices including the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.
This move is an escalation of an ongoing dispute between Motorola Mobility and Apple after licensing talks between them failed in 2010, which was well before Google bought Motorola Mobility in August 2011.
Google's rationale for this takeover was "to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies", However, despite the fact that Google gained a large number of patents (Motorola had 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending at the time of the purchase) so far the acquisition has not proved to be the hoped-for panacea.
Motorola Mobility already has an ongoing case being investigated by the ITC in which it seeks a ban on the import of the iPhone. But according to Florian Mueller, given that an ITC judge held Apple to infringed only one of Motorola's asserted patents in a preliminary ruling this action, which is expected to conclude next week is unlikely to result in an actual import ban.
In its e-mail announcement of the new complaint Motorola Mobility stated:
"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."
Apple is currently engaged in seeking an import ban against Samsung's Android devices and turning the tables on them seems like a reasonable ploy for Google if it seeks to keep Android growing. From a developers point of view it seems that the range and generalities fo the patents involved in the disputes are simply silly. Apple seems to want to patent the rectangular black box and no doubt the Motorola patents will be equally silly.
As we commented some months ago Apple seems to have a huge appetite for litigation and so it's unlikely that the wars between Android and Apple are likely to be settled any time soon.