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Apple unloads patent suits on Motorola Androids

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Apple has hit Motorola with a pair of patent infringement suits less than a month after Motorola attempted to stave off such an attack with a declaratory judgment action.

Late Friday, Steve Jobs and company unloaded suits against Motorola Inc. and Motorola Mobility Inc. in the Wisconsin Western District Court, as first reported by Patently Apple. The two suits wave six Apple patents, and none of the six were mentioned in the suits Motorola filed against Apple on October 6.

The first suit centers around US patent 7,479,949, which describes a "Touch Screen Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Heuristics." Yes, it's a multitouch patent. Apple claims that Motorola has infringed this IP with multiple handsets, including the Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm.

The suit also covers US patent 6,493,002, which describes a "Method and Apparatus for Displaying and Accessing Control and Status Information in a Computer System,” and 5,838,315, which details "Support for Custom User-Interaction Elements in a Graphical, Event-Driven Computer System."

The second suit covers three separate patents: 7,812,828 ("Ellipse Fitting for Multi-Touch Surfaces,” 7,663,607 ("Multipoint Touchscreen"), and 5,379,430 ("Object-Oriented System Locator System"). So, more multitouch.

Apple has made it quite clear that if it believes someone is infringing its patent, it will sue them. "We approach this business as a software-platform business. We are watching the landscape. We like competition as long as they don’t rip off our IP. And if they do, we will go after anyone who does," Apple COO Tim Cook said in January 2009. "We are ready to suit up and go against anyone."

The company has already sued HTC and Nokia. It appears that Motorola and Apple were discussing a possible licensing agreement to avoid litigation, but the discussions broke down before Motorola filed its suits in early October. ®

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