Google will acquire plenty of intellectual property with its planned acquisition of the handset maker. It also gets plenty more work for the legal department.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
As noted by my colleague Marguerite Reardon, Google's Motorola buy boosts its patent portfolio with more than 17,000 patents, along with another 7,500 patent applications that have been filed and are pending approval. That's a giant step up for Google, which investment banking firm MDB Capital Group estimated to have just 317 mobile device patents granted within the United States at the beginning of this month.
During a conference call immediately following Google's announcement, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said the ongoing lawsuits between Motorola and other companies will continue and will be managed by Motorola just like they were before the sale. Drummond declined to talk legal strategy, short of saying that he believes Google is now in a "very good position" to be able to protect partners within the Android ecosystem.
That protection will be particularly important given that some of the suits have targeted Motorola for using Google's Android operating system. As you'll see below, that includes suits filed by Microsoft, security company Gemalto, and Apple, which has claimed that Motorola's Xoom tablet (which runs Android) copied the iPad's design. There are numerous other suits that target Motorola on other patent-related issues, which could result in costly settlements and licensing agreements long after the Google-Motorola deal is closed.
Below we've chronicled some of the intellectual property suits flung at, as well as flung by Motorola Mobility, ranging from big battles with companies like Apple, Microsoft and TiVo, down to spats with intellectual property holders that have named it along with others for infringing on one or more of their patents. You can read more about each of the legal efforts beneath the chart:
October 1, 2010 Microsoft sues Motorola, files ITC complaint
Microsoft sues Motorola, alleging that several of the cell phone maker's Android devices infringe on its patents. Complaint is both a suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, as well as a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
October 6, 2010 Motorola sues Apple, files ITC complaint
Motorola sues Apple alleging it violated 18 of its patents in iOS and Macs. Complaint involves both a filing with the ITC and lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and for the Southern District of Florida.
October 22, 2010 Gemalto sues Motorola, others over patent
Security company Gemalto sues Motorola along with Google, HTC and Samsung for allegedly infringing on its intellectual property with technology found in Google's Android OS.
October 30, 2010 Apple sues Motorola over patents
Apple sues Motorola for allegedly violating six of its own patents, including the Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm.
November 9, 2010 Microsoft files second patent suit against Motorola
Microsoft filed a new patent-related lawsuit against Motorola, accusing Motorola of charging too much for royalties on its patent licenses, which Microsoft uses in both the wireless networking and video decoders found in the Xbox.
November 11, 2010 Motorola files lawsuit against Microsoft
Motorola files lawsuits against Microsoft in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin, accusing Microsoft of infringing on 16 patents in its Xbox gaming console and in Windows for servers, PCs, and mobile devices.
January 27, 2011 Microunity Systems Engineering sues Motorola, others over patent
Microunity Systems Engineering sues Apple along with Motorola and a number of other handset makers for allegedly infringing on its microprocessor patent in their handsets. For Motorola that includes the Droid, Droix X, and Droid 2, all of which run Google's Android mobile OS.
February 25, 2011 Motorola sues TiVO for patent infringement
Motorola files a lawsuit against TiVo for allegedly infringing on its patents with the company's popular digital video recorders. Motorola says TiVO is infringing on patents it applied for some two years before the company was even founded.
April 1, 2011 Ogma files complaint against Motorola, others with ITC.
Ogma lets fly a separate complaint against Motorola and others with the ITC (PDF), saying the companies infringe on one or both of its patents. In Motorola's case, it's specifically about using an accelerometer to signal when to play sound effects.
April 19 2011 Hybrid Audio sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Hybrid Audio adds Motorola Mobility to a patent infringement suit that also targets Apple, HTC, and Dell. The suit says Motorola Mobility is infringing on its intellectual property with its Xoom tablet, and Atrix, Droid 2 and Droid X smartphones.
June 2, 2011 Qaxaz sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
A patent suit targeting Alpine Electronics of America includes Motorola Mobility along with Garmin, Telenav, TomTom, and other GPS makers covers "remotely entering, storing and sharing, addresses for a personal information device." The device in question is Motorola's Motonav GPS.
July 28, 2011 Multi-Format sues Motorola Mobility, others for patent infringement
New Jersey-based Multi-Format sues Motorola Mobility, TiVo, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell for allegedly infringing on its patent covering video processing technologies. The Motorola products specifically are the Droid X, Droid 3, Droid X2, as well as its Xoom tablet. All told, 14 different Motorola mobile devices are named in the suit.