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Motorola and RIM Finally Settled over Dispute

Motorola and Research in Motion (RIM), two of the largest telecommunications and mobile communications companies in the world, have finally agreed on a settlement over their heated dispute regarding the patents of wireless technologies. The settlement terms included that both companies will have a cross-licensing agreement and patent transferring over technologies which involved cellular data, Wi-Fi, and email.
Both companies will receive patent rights to the key wireless technologies like:

• 2G,
• 3G,
• 4G,
• 802.11, and
• Wireless e-mail.

They will transfer the patent rights directly to each other. RIM may have been the one who yielded to the deal since they were also made to pay an upfront settlement fee and certain ongoing royalty fees to Motorola. Other details of the agreement were not disclosed but it assured that the agreement settles everything and ends all the litigation between the two companies.

The dispute between them started and became official just this year when Motorola, the Android friendly company, filed a case with the US International Trade Commission on RIM’s alleged infringement on five of Motorola’s patents.

The lawsuit also accused RIM of stalling deliberately on purpose and threatening a ban on Blackberry phones’ trading operations to force a deal. The Blackberry phone is one of RIM’s main products. Motorola also asked the ITC to ban the imports of the Blackberry phones into the US as a penalty to RIM.

As a response to the lawsuit, RIM in turn sued Motorola for cheating or rather gouging on its patents related to basic Smartphone technology. The Canadian firm RIM was previously accused of a similar patent case last February but was victorious when it was found not to have violated a single patent. However, it seems that they have not escaped the similar patent related issues.

The patents included in the dispute were related to technologies like Wi-Fi, application management, power management, and user interface. According to Motorola, RIM once had license to use such technologies but the licensing deals ended last 2007.

RIM also has another complaint with the ITC where Eastman Kodak alleged that RIM and Apple infringed on their patent which was related to technology of digital imaging. The ITC is currently investigating such allegations by Kodak.

Both companies refused to provide the financial terms of the settlement but these kinds of deals usually involve large amounts in dozens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Impending Feud of Apple and Kodak

In the ongoing feud between Apple and Kodak regarding patent rights, Apple has filed a patent infringement suit in the US District Court against Kodak, along with the complaint in the International Trade Commission (ITC). The complaints from Apples court came nearly after four months, after Kodak launched ITC complaints along with the Lawsuit against Apple and RIM, regarding the violation of the Kodak patents for the camera in mobile devices.

Kodak first claimed in January that iPhone and Blackberry violated couple of patents regarding the digital imaging. The patents filed by Kodak against Apple and RIM include:

  • “Electronic Camera for Initiating Capture of Still Images while Previewing Motion Images” (US Patent #6,292,218) and
  • “Single Sensor Color Camera with User Selectable Image Record Size” (US Patent #5,493,335)

Along with these, Kodak filed patents against Apple regarding the infringement of other three software patents which include:

  • “Integration of Data Between Typed Objects by Mutal [sic], Direct Invocation Between Data Managers Corresponding to Data Types” (US Patent #5,226,161)
  • “Multitasking Computer System for Integrating the Operation of Different Application Programs which Manipulate Data Objects of Different Types” (US Patent #5,421,012) and
  • “Link Mechanism for Linking Data Between Objects and for Performing Operations on the Linked Data in an Object Based System” (US Patent #5,303,379).

In the response of these patents filed by Kodak, Apple claimed that the patents filed by Kodak are invalid stating procedural issues, duplication of other patents and obviousness of some of the patents’ claims as a valid reason. Apple requested the US District Court to find the patents invalid. Apple also stated that in case the patents are not invalid, it is still liable to use the technology as it has an express license.

Apple has also alleged Kodak of violating two of its patents in digital still and video cameras. The two patents filed by Apple include:

  • “System and Method for Using a Unified Memory Architecture to Implement a Digital Camera Device” (US Patent #6,031,964) and
  • “Modular Digital Image Processing via an Image Processing Chain with Modifiable Parameter Controls”

Nearly all the still image cameras and the recently launched SLICE models of Kodak have been targeted by Apple for patent violation.

Over the years Apple has strongly opposed any patent infringement of its products, as it damages their brand identity. Since Apple is the first company to set a trend in the gadget market, it becomes necessary for it to protect its patent database.

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