In Duel with Motorola, Apple Says iPhone Too Popular for a US Ban

Apple triumphs over Samsung in the patent case. But the legal battles are far from over for the world’s most valuable company. Now it’s Apple Inc. vs. Google Motorola.

Apple Inc. is recently reported to rely upon the popularity of its devices in a hope to ruin Google’s Motorola Mobility’s attempt to put a ban on the import of its iPhone and iPad in the US market. iPhone and iPad are two of the best-selling devices and the firm calls them too good for the US to put a ban.

Today marks the day when the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington will announce whether iPad and iPhone violate Motorola Mobility patents, and if so, whether it will put a stop on them from being imported into the US market from Asia.

The ITC is also reported to consider whether to limit use of import bans in disputes over patents, which relate to industry wide standards. This step is supported by some members of Congress, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and companies including Intel Corp.

Qualcomm Inc., which makes and designs chips for mobile phones, said the suggestion to limit import bans based on standard-essential patents sounds to be an extreme solution in search of a problem.

Rodney Sweetland, patent lawyer with Durane Morris in Washington believes that no political system will ban the import of iPhone in the US, which is the most popular smartphone in the market. Sweetland, currently specializes in ITC cases.

Google’s Motorola Mobility accused Apple of infringing four patents, two of which relate to industry standards for 3G wireless and Wi-Fi technologies. It also charged Apple on the basis of denying offers to license the standard-essential patents. Motorola Mobility says it fulfilled its requirement to make a logical royalty offer, but Apple refused to discuss. The other two patents along with the seven patents that are the subject of a new complaint Motorola Mobility filed Aug. 17 are not standard-essential.

Apple however, has denied infringing the patents and argues them to be invalid. Apple says that even in case there is a patent violation, the commission should not stop its devices at the US border.

A trade judge in April said Apple violated one patent, which is essential to 3G. The ITC is evaluating his findings.

It was reported that 62 percent of Apple’s sales in 2011 accounted for $47.1 billion in sales of iPhones and $20.4 billion in sales of iPad.

Google however, plans to target Apple Mac computers, the iPod Touch and Apple TV in its second standard-essential patent in Motorola Mobility’s complaint.

“Blocking imports of iPhones in the US market, based on infringement of a standard-essential patent can cause harm to US competition, consumers and innovation,” wrote the FTC wrote in a June 6 filing with the agency.

Motorola Mobility told the commission in July 16 filing, “Apple and others — without analyzing the facts of this case — point to the problem of ‘hold up. But they ignore the counter problem of ‘hold out’ — an unwilling licensee being rewarded for its intransigence in a manner that will deprive patent owners of value and create disincentives for innovative companies from participating in standards setting.”

ITC has reported to get over a dozen complaints over the past two years, as various companies strive for increased shares of the smartphone market that grew 62 percent to $219 billion last year.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif. is hoping to win the patent case. The firm is relying on Motorola Mobility’s history with mobile phones along with its trove of 17,000 patents. It hopes to force Apple into a settlement of the ITC case, which could also cover handset makers who use Google’s Android operating system, including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp.

Back in 2007, Motorola Mobility approached Apple about a patent license, asking for a royalty of 2.25 percent of the price of Apple products. Apple and Microsoft Corp., which has its own legal fights with Motorola Mobility, declared the demand to be unreasonable.

President Barack Obama is also believed to review the decision made by the commission decision and is hoped to reject any import ban on public policy grounds.… Read the rest

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