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.

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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
118 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
118 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
118 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
118 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
118 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
118 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)

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