Apple Sues Motorola Over Licensing of Cellular Technology by Qualcomm

Reuters reports that Apple has filed a lawsuit against Motorola Mobility alleging that Motorola has breached a licensing agreement with Qualcomm in its efforts to have a number of Apple's iOS devices banned from sale in Germany. Following a December victory by Motorola in a German court, Apple last week briefly pulled all 3G-enabled products with the exception of the iPhone 4S from its German online store. They were restored within a few hours after the injunction was suspended.

apple motorola qualcomm logos
Today's lawsuit specifically addresses the iPhone 4S, which Motorola has also been seeking to block in Germany and other countries. The iPhone 4S utilizes Qualcomm's MDM6610 baseband chip, and Apple argues that Qualcomm's patent license with Motorola exhausts Motorola's rights to further royalties from Apple.

The suit, filed in a San Diego federal court, argues that Motorola's German lawsuit against Apple breaches terms of a patent licensing agreement between Motorola and Qualcomm. [...]

In the latest lawsuit, Apple says that as a Qualcomm customer, Apple is a third-party beneficiary of Motorola's agreement with Qualcomm. Under that agreement, Motorola's rights under certain patents are exhausted, Apple argues.

Apple has raised this issue before, perhaps most notably in defending itself against Samsung in Australia where it similarly claimed that Apple is protected from attacks based on these patents related to core cellular technologies by virtue of Qualcomm's licensing agreements. Motorola and Samsung have disagreed with Apple on that front, and Apple is now pressing the matter with a lawsuit of its own specifically addressing the issue as it relates to Motorola's efforts in Germany.

Top Rated Comments

richlizard24 Avatar
126 months ago
Motorola is trying to double dip

It's simply really. Motorola has licensed its FRAND patents to Qualcomm. Qualcomm pays the licensing fee and is free to use that tech in its chips. Apple purchases and uses said Qualcomm chips in its products. Motorola is now trying to collect a fee from Apple for the use of its technology covered by the FRAND patents even though they have already collected the fee from Qualcomm. Motorola is trying to double dip and argue that Apple should not be included in its licensing agreement with Qualcomm. Essentially, Motorola is trying to collect a non-FRAND patent fee from Apple for a FRAND patent, even though they already collected that fee from Qualcomm.
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gflinch Avatar
126 months ago
It's simply really. Motorola has licensed its FRAND patents to Qualcomm. Qualcomm pays the licensing fee and is free to use that tech in its chips. Apple purchases and uses said Qualcomm chips in its products. Motorola is now trying to collect a fee from Apple for the use of its technology covered by the FRAND patents even though they have already collected the fee from Qualcomm. Motorola is trying to double dip and argue that Apple should not be included in its licensing agreement with Qualcomm. Essentially, Motorola is trying to collect a non-FRAND patent fee from Apple for a FRAND patent, even though they already collected that fee from Qualcomm.

I have to agree, if this is the correct understanding (seems to to me).

Its like going to the hardware store to buy some screws, I buy them, take them home, and now the screw manufacture calls me up and says I have to pay again to use them in my project.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dethmaShine Avatar
126 months ago
And the suing cycle continues...

Mind you my friend, this is very different. :)

I think over the past few days, I've understood a lot about FRAND patents but as far as I understand, both Motorola and Samsung have knowingly abused FRAND patents.

Give it a year, the situation will be much clearer.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vrDrew Avatar
126 months ago
It just seems like blatant abuse of FRAND to me.

Actually, its not.

What Apple is claiming (in this particular) case is "Patent Exhaustion." Which is the principle that if company A licenses its patent to Supplier B, who then uses the tech in a component which they then sell to company C - Company A cannot then go and sue company C for patent infringement.

FRAND is a totally different concept. It (very briefly) holds that if a company submits its technology to be part of an industry standard, then they HAVE to offer a license on that technology to all comers, and under "reasonable" terms.

Think of the when they were setting up the system of electrical power. Each house needs to have the same sort of electrical outlets, otherwise you would have chaos and waste. And so an industry group decides on a certain type of outlet. Now the design on that type of plug may be patented by one member of the industry group. And every OTHER company that wants to sell lamps and refrigerators and televisions, HAS to use the patented plug and outlet.

FRAND says that the patent holder HAS to license its plug design to everyone that wants to use it. It has to license the design under terms that won't make it uncompetitive, they can't offer preferential terms to some companies and not others.

That is kind of a nutshell of what Samsung and Motorola are going in the smartphone business right now. They are using their "baseband" patents - which were issued with FRAND commitments - in such a way that Apple (in particular) feels violates the FRAND principle. Getting back to the "electrical power" analogy I used above, Motorola is saying that, rather than paying $0.20 per unit to use their "plug" technology - Apple has to pay them a percentage of the cost of their refrigerator.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jon1987 Avatar
126 months ago
Well if it really is that clear cut and motorola are trying cash in twice then something needs to be done about it.



So if Qualcomm pays for the licence who are they meant to sell the chips to if no one else has the licence?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wondercow Avatar
126 months ago
This feels like one of those situations where it is abusive litigation and subject to fines.

Really? On what factual information do you base this conclusion? Please do detail how this lawsuit is abusive on Apple's part.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

beats updater

Apple Officially Retires Beats Updater Utility in Favor of Over-the-Air Firmware Updates

Wednesday September 30, 2020 2:30 am PDT by
Apple has officially retired Beats Updater, the software utility that lets users update the firmware of their Beats Wireless headphones, earphones, and speakers. Beats Updater allows users to plug their Beats product directly into the USB port of their computer to check for firmware updates online, but with Apple's growing tendency to deliver over-the-air updates to wireless products via iOS ...
calculatorapp

iOS 11 Bug: Typing 1+2+3 Quickly in the Calculator App Won't Get You 6

Tuesday October 24, 2017 2:03 pm PDT by
A bug in the built-in Calculator app in iOS 11 is getting some major attention this week, despite the fact that it's been around since iOS 11 was in beta testing. At issue is a calculator animation that causes some symbols to be ignored when calculations are entered in rapid succession. You can try it for yourself: Type 1+2+3 and then the equals sign into the Calculator app quickly. Due to...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
m1 imac orange

New iMac Tidbits: Headphone Jack on Side, Ethernet Port on Power Adapter, Spatial Audio and WiFi 6 Support, No SD Card Slot

Wednesday April 21, 2021 6:38 am PDT by
Apple yesterday announced a completely redesigned 24-inch iMac with the M1 Apple silicon chip. The new iMac, the first major redesign of the Mac desktop computer since 2012, has several changes compared to the previous generation. In the aftermath of the event, a few new features and tidbits may have slipped under the radar, so we’ve compiled this list of some of the less-talked-about...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
qualcomm snapdragon x60 5g

iPhone 13 Lineup Expected to Use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 Modem With Several 5G Improvements

Wednesday February 24, 2021 8:10 am PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 13 lineup will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G modem, with Samsung to handle manufacturing of the chip, according to DigiTimes. Built on a 5nm process, the X60 packs higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint compared to the 7nm-based Snapdragon X55 modem used in iPhone 12 models, which could contribute to longer battery life. With the X60 modem, iPhone...