Rapprochement or Retreat? Motorola Mobility Drops ITC Patent Complaint Against Apple.
An unexpected development in Apple’s ongoing patent battle with Google. The search giant’s Motorola Mobility division on Tuesday abruptly withdrew a recent complaint it had brought against Apple with the International Trade Commission.
Filed in mid-August, the complaint accused Apple of infringing seven Motorola patents and asked the ITC to ban the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, the new iPad, the Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, which Google argued were in violation of them. On Sept. 19, the ITC agreed to review Google’s claims. So its sudden withdrawal just a few weeks later is remarkable, to say the least.
What happened? That’s not clear, and Motorola hasn’t replied to a request for comment. But there are two rationales that spring immediately to mind. The first: Those “secret” settlement talks between Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook have begun to show promise, and Google is backing off as a result. Note: In its filing, Google does not speak of a settlement at all.
The second: Google is no longer quite as confident in its chances to prevail over Apple in this arena. As we’ve noted here before, this complaint is the company’s second against the iPhone maker with the ITC. And the first one didn’t go well at all. And the one that was withdrawn today was based on patents that are thought to be not nearly as strong. Perhaps Google is cutting its losses, fearing that an unfavorable ruling from the ITC would further undermine the idea that acquiring Motorola Mobility and its patents for $12.5 billion was a wise move.
Reached for comment, Google had only this to say: “As we have said many times before, we will continue to vigorously defend our partners.”