Business Technology

Thursday 19 April 2018

Apple countersues Motorola over patents

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Motorola, accusing the other company of infringing its intellectual property

Apple chief Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone 4 earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images
Apple chief Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone 4 earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images

Apple is suing Motorola after accusing the company of infringing several key technology patents pertaining to its multi-touch display interface.

Motorola’s Droid handset, in particular, has attracted Apple’s ire, with the iPhone maker claiming that the Droid infringes Apple’s multi-touch patents and copies some interface elements.

The move represents an escalation in the war of words between one-time partners Motorola and Apple. In October, Motorola filed four lawsuits against Apple, and asked a US federal judge to invalidate Apple's multi-touch patents.

Motorola and Apple once enjoyed a harmonious relationship, with Motorola building the processors inside Apple’s Power PC-based Macs, and collaborating with Apple to build the very first “iPhone”, the Motorola Rokr with integrated iTunes support.

But Apple has grown increasingly concerned about what it perceives as rivals “stealing” its ideas as they seek to create phones that can compete with the iPhone.

“We like competition, as long as they don’t rip off our intellectual property,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operations officer, during an earnings call last year.

Smartphone makers are turning increasingly litigious as they seek to see off the threat posed by rivals, drawing on reams of patents and intellectual property documentation to initiate legal proceedings.

Experts believe the likely outcome of such action will be licensing agreements between companies that will seem them take a percentage of rivals’ sales in exchange for allowing them to use key technologies.

Apple is suing HTC and Nokia for alleged trademark infringements, and is itself being sued by a host of companies, including Kodak and Nokia.

Motorola has pledged to defend itself "vigorously” against the claims.

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