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International Trade Commission heeds Moto, targets Apple

Trade regulator votes to peruse Cupertino's patent pile

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The IT industry’s ongoing battle to outlaw itself with intricately cross-linked patent-driven bans on device sales continues, with Google-owned Motorola Mobility winning an International Trade Commission investigation into Apple over yet more infringement.

Back in August, the Chocolate Moto asked the ITC for the probe. At the time, the company said “Apple’s unwillingness to work out a licence leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations”.

If you really want the full list of patents, they’re at the end of the story.

The ITC has now voted to investigate infringement complaints against “certain Apple iPhones, iPods, iPads and Apple personal computers” (in other words, most of the current hardware line with the exception of the newest iPhone.

Unlike some patents at issue in the ongoing World Vs Dog international squabbles, Motorola’s complaints don’t cover “standards-essential” patents – meaning that if the ITC decides there are infringements, a sales ban is feasible (pending, of course, yet more court appearances and appeals, which would presumably drag on long enough that all of the targeted products would be simultaneously banned and obsolete).

The ITC makes no commitment about how long the investigation will take, noting only that it will set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days.

Google’s complaint covers (with thanks to FOSS Patents for the handy list):

* Geographic-temporal significant messaging (US 5,883,580) – message processing in iPhone 4 and 4S;

* Multimedia control and communication (US 5,922,047) – multimedia processing in iPhones and iPads;

* Messaging again, in US 6,425,002 – ensuring that applications “only receive messages that are of interest”, in iPhones and iPads;

* Siri, in US 6,493,673 – which covers inter alia “an input element that allows an audible user in put to be converted into a text string”, in the iPhone 4S;

* Messaging yet again in US 6,983,370 – message synching in iPhones, iPads and personal computers;

* Wireless content management in US 7,007,064 – “an apparatus and method for obtaining and managing wirelessly communicated content”, which nets iPhones and iPads;

* Content playback across different devices in US 7,383,983 – “a system and method for pausing content in one device and resuming playback of the content in another device that may be in a different domain”, which adds the iPod Touch to the ban-hammer list along with iPhones and iPads. ®

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