Consumer Electronics

Google Works Around Smartphone Trade Ban; Apple Gets Another Wide-Ranging Patent

Paul Ausick

In May the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that certain Motorola Mobility smartphones could not be imported into the United States beginning today because the phones infringed on a patent owned by Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), which now owns Motorola Mobility, claims that it has “employed a range of proactive measures to ensure there is no continuing infringement,” and intends to continue importing the phones.

Google did not specify how it has altered the phones to avoid the infringing feature, which allows users to create requests for and schedule meetings. The company could have just eliminated the feature from its phones, or — less likely — paid Microsoft a licensing fee.

The original 2010 Microsoft lawsuit against Motorola claimed that the phones infringed on nine patents, but the ITC eventually upheld just the one.

In a related development, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has received a patent related to the way that iOS displays lists and documents. This may be about as interesting as watching grass grow, but until the iPhone was released in 2007, getting a decent list display on the tiny screens of feature phones was virtually impossible. This patent could really shake up Apple’s smartphone competitors, particularly Google and its Android operating system.

For an English language description of the patent, see this post at Patently Apple.

Paul Ausick