The recent smart phone patent battles appear to be showing no signs of slowing down in the near future with the recent announcement that Google’s Motorola Mobility unit has filed a patent-infringement case against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The case centers around seven Motorola Mobility patents on vital smart phone features, such as voice recognition software used in Apple’s Siri program and e-mail notifications.
Google is seeking a ban on U.S. imports of several devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. Because Apple products are made outside of the United States, an import ban would effectively prevent Apple from selling its products in the United States.
Some liken these patent lawsuits to Cold-War-Style Mutually Assured Destruction, and it’s not difficult to see why. If the billions of dollars involved in the Apple v Samsung case seemed like high stakes, a complete United States import ban on all of Apple’s most lucrative products would be monumental.
Potential for massive damage to companies that produce smart phones notwithstanding, both parties are sure to have interesting arguments. Apple accuses Motorola Mobility of making unreasonable demands for the licensing of its patents (which are standards-essential and required to be licensed for reasonable fees), while Motorola Mobility argues that Apple refused to negotiate a license. Apple also contends that the case should be resolved in a federal district court rather than with the ITC because the ITC does not have the power to award damages.