Motorola Mobility Inc. last week filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Delaware asking that the court invalidate 11 patents that Apple holds (and one held by NeXT). These patents are at the heart of the lawsuit that Apple has against another handset maker, HTC. Apple also asserts that these patents are violated in the Google Android OS.
This move by Motorola is designed to preemptively protect itself from Apple in case it finds itself the subject of a similar lawsuit. With this filing, Motorola is claiming that they are not infringing on these patents, and furthermore wants the court to find them invalid. Motorola and Apple have been in negotiations over these patents in recent months, hoping to negotiate an agreement that would avoid legal action. Motorola’s recent move would seem to indicate that those negotiations have not been successful. Motorola is also suing Apple for violating 18 of its own patents.
Typically a company will file a complaint in advance of a pending lawsuit from another company, hoping to avoid legal action by invalidating the patents in question. Whether Motorola will succeed remains to be seen. In such a litigious environment, it’s remarkable that innovation still occurs.