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Mobile patent wars have no clear winner

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:patent wars? patent infringement? design patents?

There seem to be no clear winner in the on-going patent wars between Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.'s Android. This is according to several reports studying the companies' patents.

UBM TechInsights has come up with an analysis of the almost 17,000 patents Google is hoping to acquire as part of its bid to buy Motorola Mobility. Displaybank has released handful of reports on mobile displays, as well as a report examining a key Apple patent on multi-touch screens.

Meanwhile, a U.S. judge suggested at least one of Apple's design patents on the look and feel of its iPad may not be valid. The case is one of several Apple has brought against Samsung in courts around the world trying to prevent it from selling Android smartphones and tablets.

Separately, Motorola is named in 46 recent patent infringement cases citing 302 patents. Motorola has sued Apple or Microsoft for patent infringement in 12 of those cases, all filed in the past year.

Google will be better able to defend Android partners using the Motorola patents and Moto's seasoned intellectual property team, but it "does not have a clear advantage with this [Motorola] portfolio acquisition," UBM TechInsights said in its report. In fact the deal "likely makes this combined entity a more direct target," it said.

The report found Motorola Mobility has a total of 12,901 active patents, including 7,909 U.S. patents and 2,315 pending U.S. applications. The biggest groups?4,429 patents?are broadly in communications with smaller groups in encoding (414), video processing (298), power management (286), security (211) and user interface (91).

The U.S. patents should hold up well over time. Five years out 6,947 of the patents will still be valid including the vast majority of the patents in all the major categories.

Separately, market watcher Displaybank released a report examining a new multi-touch U.S. patent Apple was granted in June. It "encompasses broad topics related to technology of operating almost any picture that moves on [a] touch screen [and] is a strong, hard-to-avoid patent," it concluded.

In the end, patent wars are a numbers game, said Terry Ludlow, chief executive of ChipWorks, an IP consulting firm that has not conducted a specific analysis of the mobile portfolios.

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