Mon, Feb 20, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Apple files claim against Motorola Mobility in EU

HARD BALL:Although Google which purchased MMI, said it would continue the firm’s licensing practices, legal action by Apple and Microsoft raises questions


Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (MMI) said Apple Inc filed a complaint with the EU’s competition authority accusing it of violating a pledge to license industry--standard patents on fair terms.

Motorola Mobility said in a regulatory filing that it was notified of the complaint on Saturday by the European Commission. Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said the company was willing to negotiate a patent license with Apple.

Apple and Motorola Mobility have sued each other in the US and Europe over technology used in smartphones, a market that researcher IDC said grew 55 percent last year. Motorola Mobility won two out of three rulings in lawsuits it filed against Apple in a German court, and in one case forced Apple to remove older iPhone and iPad models from its online store in Germany.

Companies often collaborate on standards that are used to make products work together, with participants pledging to fairly license any patents on the standards they help create. Apple contends Motorola Mobility is violating that commitment. Motorola Mobility, which has said it has been in licensing talks with Apple since 2007, denied the charge.

“MMI has a long-standing practice of licensing our patents on fair, reasonable and non--discriminatory terms and we offered those to Apple,” Erickson said.

German courts have become the focal point of litigation between the two companies, with each seeking orders that would limit sales of the others’ products.

On Friday, a court in Munich said Motorola Mobility’s mobile phones infringe an Apple patent for a method of unlocking touch screens.

Google Inc, which is buying Illinois-based Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion, pledged to continue the company’s licensing practices. Regulators in Europe and the US granted approval to the purchase while expressing some reservation about how industry-standard patents are handled.

Apple and Microsoft Corp have said they would not seek a court order to block use of technology covered by industry-standard patents, even as they pursue infringement claims over non-essential patents against Motorola Mobility.

Google said it would seek a royalty fee of no more than 2.25 percent of the net cost of devices using its patents and would try to resolve any disputes through negotiation before asking courts to block use of the Motorola Mobility technology.

“We are aware of the increasingly strategic use of patents in the sector and are vigilant,” the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia said last Monday. “We can avoid a continuation of this patent war.”

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