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Apple sues Motorola over Qualcomm licensing deal

Apple is in court again, this time with Motorola. It's trying to stop Moto asserting patent claims in Germany.

Apple has gone to court again, this time with Motorola. It's claiming Moto's patent infringement cases against Apple in Germany breach Motorola's licensing agreement with chip-maker Qualcomm, Reuters reports.

This is all starting to feel a bit like a game of chess.

It all comes down to a legal principle called patent exhaustion, The Verge explains. Apple buys chips from Qualcomm, and argues that Qualcomm already pays Moto licensing fees for those components. Now, patent exhaustion states that a company can only claim one payment per use of patented technology.

Seeing as Apple has paid Qualcomm to use Moto's patented tech when it coughed up for the chips, Motorola can't claim any more payments. Trying to double up on licensing fees would breach Motorola's contract with Qualcomm. Or so Apple is arguing anyway.

We'll have to see how this one pans out, especially seeing as German courts may rule differently to US ones. But things haven't been going Apple's way in court recently. It was forced to pull several models of iPad and iPhone from shelves in Germany following a patent dispute from Motorola, though it overturned the ruling just hours later.

A German court also recently ruled that Samsung's redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1N was fine to go on sale (the company changed its look after Apple had it yanked from the shelves, accusing it of "slavishly copying" the iPad).

Apple's biggest rival Google is currently in the process of taking over Motorola, meaning this kind of legal fracas is only going to become all the more common -- especially if Google took some of Steve Jobs' more contentious comments to heart.

Are these cases in anyone's interest? Or should the companies put their differences aside and focus on making better products? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook.