Google's surprise buy of handset maker Motorola Mobility yesterday gives the search giant a fully packed war chest of patents, but it also means Google is inheriting a sizable amount of intellectual property litigation.
As noted by my colleague Marguerite Reardon, Google's Motorola buy boosts its patent portfolio with more than 17,000 patents, along with another 7,500 patent applications that have been filed and are pending approval. That's a giant step up for Google, which investment banking firm MDB Capital Group estimated to have just 317 mobile device patents granted within the United States at the beginning of this month.
During a conference call immediately following Google's announcement, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said the ongoing lawsuits between Motorola and other companies will continue and will be managed by Motorola just like they were before the sale. Drummond declined to talk legal strategy, short of saying that he believes Google is now in a "very good position" to be able to protect partners within the Android ecosystem.
That protection will be particularly important given that some of the suits have targeted Motorola for using Google's Android operating system. As you'll see below, that includes suits filed by Microsoft, security company Gemalto, and Apple, which has claimed that Motorola's Xoom tablet (which runs Android) copied the iPad's design. There are numerous other suits that target Motorola on other patent-related issues, which could result in costly settlements and licensing agreements long after the Google-Motorola deal is closed.
Below we've chronicled some of the intellectual property suits flung at, as well as flung by Motorola Mobility, ranging from big battles with companies like Apple, Microsoft and TiVo, down to spats with intellectual property holders that have named it along with others for infringing on one or more of their patents. You can read more about each of the legal efforts beneath the chart:
October 1, 2010
Microsoft sues Motorola, files ITC complaint
Microsoft sues Motorola, alleging that several of the cell phone maker's Android devices infringe on its patents. Complaint is both a suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, as well as a filing with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
October 6, 2010
Motorola sues Apple, files ITC complaint
Motorola sues Apple alleging it violated 18 of its patents in iOS and Macs. Complaint involves both a filing with the ITC and lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and for the Southern District of Florida.
October 22, 2010
Gemalto sues Motorola, others over patent
Security company Gemalto sues Motorola along with Google, HTC and Samsung for allegedly infringing on its intellectual property with technology found in Google's Android OS.
October 30, 2010
Apple sues Motorola over patents
Apple sues Motorola for allegedly violating six of its own patents, including the Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm.
November 9, 2010
Microsoft files second patent suit against Motorola
Microsoft filed a new patent-related lawsuit against Motorola, accusing Motorola of charging too much for royalties on its patent licenses, which Microsoft uses in both the wireless networking and video decoders found in the Xbox.
November 11, 2010
Motorola files lawsuit against Microsoft
Motorola files lawsuits against Microsoft in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin, accusing Microsoft of infringing on 16 patents in its Xbox gaming console and in Windows for servers, PCs, and mobile devices.
November 22, 2010
Motorola follows Microsoft lawsuit with ITC complaint
Days after suing Microsoft in court, Motorola files a complaint against Microsoft with the ITC, claiming its Xbox products infringe on five of its patents.
January 27, 2011
Microunity Systems Engineering sues Motorola, others over patent
Microunity Systems Engineering sues Apple along with Motorola and a number of other handset makers for allegedly infringing on its microprocessor patent in their handsets. For Motorola that includes the Droid, Droix X, and Droid 2, all of which run Google's Android mobile OS.
February 11, 2011
Lodsys sues Motorola, others over patent infringement
Lodsys, the same non-practicing entity that's taken aim at numerous application developers, includes Motorola Mobility in this suit, claiming the company infringes on its intellectual property with its cell phones and media hub.
February 25, 2011
Motorola sues TiVO for patent infringement
Motorola files a lawsuit against TiVo for allegedly infringing on its patents with the company's popular digital video recorders. Motorola says TiVO is infringing on patents it applied for some two years before the company was even founded.
March 14, 2011
Ogma sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Ogma files lawsuit against Apple, Motorola and other handset makers for allegedly infringing on a patent it holds for a "programmable motion-sensitive sound effects device."
March 21, 2011
Imperium Holdings sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Motorola and seven other companies are accused of infringing on patents held by Imperium Holdings related to cameras and imaging equipment.
April 1, 2011
Ogma files complaint against Motorola, others with ITC.
Ogma lets fly a separate complaint against Motorola and others with the ITC (PDF), saying the companies infringe on one or both of its patents. In Motorola's case, it's specifically about using an accelerometer to signal when to play sound effects.
April 19 2011
Hybrid Audio sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Hybrid Audio adds Motorola Mobility to a patent infringement suit that also targets Apple, HTC, and Dell. The suit says Motorola Mobility is infringing on its intellectual property with its Xoom tablet, and Atrix, Droid 2 and Droid X smartphones.
Motorola sues Apple for patent infringement in Germany
Months after the two U.S. complaints have been filed, Motorola files patent infringement complaints against Apple in Germany.
April 13, 2011
Gellyfish Technology sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Gellyfish Technology of Texas files suit against Alltel, along with Motorola Mobility and more than 30 other companies, alleging they infringe on its intellectual property.
May 27, 2011
Apple sues Motorola for design patent infringement in Germany
Apple files design-patent infringement complaint against Motorola in Germany over the design of its Xoom tablet, which runs Google's Android.
June 2, 2011
Qaxaz sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
A patent suit targeting Alpine Electronics of America includes Motorola Mobility along with Garmin, Telenav, TomTom, and other GPS makers covers "remotely entering, storing and sharing, addresses for a personal information device." The device in question is Motorola's Motonav GPS.
June 16, 2011
Arnhouse Digital Devices sues Motorola Mobility for patent infringement
This suit, filed by Arnhouse Digital Devices, takes aim at Motorola's Atrix 4G phone, and Atrix Lapdock accessory for infringing on its patent that covers turning a pocket-sized computer into a larger computing device.
July 6, 2011
Cascades Computer Innovation sues Motorola for patent infringement
A lawsuit from Cascades Computer Innovation takes aim at Motorola Mobility as well as Samsung for infringing on its patent covering the handling of binary code. The suit specifically takes aim at Motorola's Droid X phones.
July 28, 2011
Multi-Format sues Motorola Mobility, others for patent infringement
New Jersey-based Multi-Format sues Motorola Mobility, TiVo, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell for allegedly infringing on its patent covering video processing technologies. The Motorola products specifically are the Droid X, Droid 3, Droid X2, as well as its Xoom tablet. All told, 14 different Motorola mobile devices are named in the suit.
August 1, 2011
Advanced Digital Technologies sues Motorola, others for patent infringement
Advanced Digital Technologies of Texas sues Dell along with Motorola Mobility and nine other companies as part of a patent infringement suit that targets display technologies.