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Apple Sues Motorola Over Smart Phones. Again.

By Jason Beahm on November 02, 2010 10:02 AM

Apple is taking on Motorola in court for allegedly infringing on Apple patents used for smart phones. According to a counter-suit filed by Apple, Motorola infringed upon Apple's multi-touch patents as well as other patents.

Many are surprised that Apple waited so long to begin suing over their multi-touch patents. The company is no stranger to patent litigation. When the first generation iPhone came out, the multi-touch technology was considered groundbreaking. Today, nearly all smart phones are using technology that appears to be quite similar. Ultimately it will be up to the courts to decide whether the similarity reaches the level of patent infringement.

Apple claims that nine Motorola devices infringe on their patents: the Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm. The suit was filed in the Wisconsin Western District Court, according to MSNBC. Apple is seeking an injunction against further infringement, as well as attorney's fees, triple damages and back royalties.

Patent infringement occurs when a person or business uses or sells a patented item or technology without the permission of the patent holder. The patent holder can sue to stop the infringement and receive compensation for the unauthorized use. Intellectual property is governed by federal law, so patent cases are filed in federal district court. Patent holders have six years from the date of infringement to file their case. If the suit is not brought within six years, it is waived. Patent litigation proceeds in a similar manner to other federal cases, however, the legal issues in patent cases are often highly technical.

Apple's patent infringement dispute with Motorola is likely to drag on for several years. Multi-touch is a crucial technology for the Cupertino-based consumer technology company. Multi-touch is used in products that make up over 50% of Apple's revenue.

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