Apple (AAPL) Counter-Sues Motorola Over Multi-Touch

Motorola and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have been in discussion for some time about mutual licensing agreements intended to prevent potential patent lawsuits between the two companies over mobile technology IP.

Unfortunately sometime this month those informal chats broke down, and in a “preemptive” defensive move (if there is such a thing) Motorola filed suit against Apple to protect itself from being hit with a similar lawsuit which Apple hit HTC with a few months back. Confused yet? I haven’t even mentioned Nokia and Apple’s ongoing patent spat yet!

Unfortunately Motorola’s move has simply upped the stakes and yesterday Apple hit them with six individual patent infringement charges. All of these pertain to Multi-Touch technology. The very heart of what mobile operating systems are about these days.

At one of Apple’s quarterly financial report sessions in 2009 Tim Cook had this to say‚

We like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does.

It seems that Motorola has now found itself on the wrong side of Cook, and Apple’s suit attacks just about every contemporary device that Motorola makes.

Full details of the patents Apple is defending have been detailed by Patently Apple. And are as follows…

One: Apple, Inc patent titled: Ellipse Fitting for Multi-Touch Surfaces: Patent Abstract: Apparatus and methods are disclosed for simultaneously tracking multiple finger and palm contacts as hands approach, touch, and slide across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface. Identification and classification of intuitive hand configurations and motions enables unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device.

Two: Apple, Inc patent titled: Multipoint Touchscreen: Patent Abstract: A touch panel having a transparent capacitive sensing medium configured to detect multiple touches or near touches that occur at the same time and at distinct locations in the plane of the touch panel and to produce distinct signals representative of the location of the touches on the plane of the touch panel for each of the multiple touches is disclosed.

Three: Taligent, Inc patent titled: Object-Oriented System Locator System: Patent Abstract: A method and system for adding system components (documents, tools, fonts, libraries, etc.) to a computer system without running an installation program. A location framework is employed to locate system components whose properties match those specified in search criteria. The framework receives notification from the system when system components whose properties match the search criteria are added to or removed from the system.

Four: Apple, Inc, patent titled: Touch Screen Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Heuristics: Apple’s invention generally relates to electronic devices with touch screen displays, and more particularly, to electronic devices that apply heuristics to detected user gestures on a touch screen display to determine commands.

Five: Apple Computer, Inc. patent titled: Method and Apparatus for Displaying and Accessing Control and Status Information in a Computer System: Apple’s invention generally relates to the field of computer systems; particularly, the present invention relates to displaying a status and control function bar or window to enable access of user selected indicia to a computer system user.

Six: Apple Computer, Inc. patent titled: Support for Custom User-Interaction Elements in a Graphical, Event-Driven Computer System: Apple’s invention relates to graphical, event-driven computer systems, more particularly to custom interactive user-interaction elements in a computer system having a window-based graphical user interface.

It seems that the various legal wranglings between Apple, HTC (whom many see as Google’s proxy in this war), Nokia, Motorola and just about every smartphone manufacturer on the planet just got much more complex.

This will take years to sort out, and only make lawyers rich.

Do you think it’s right from companies to duke it out for ideas in this way? Have your say in the comments…

[via Patently Apple]

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