Google goes after Apple via Motorola patents

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Motorola has filed with the International Trade Commission (that’s the same one that blocked the HTC One X and EVO 4G LTE for a spell) to sue Apple over seven undisclosed patents. The patents relate to the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod touch, for which Motorola is seeking an import ban.

So far, the only official word from Motorola has been “We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations.” Also pertinent to the case is the fact that the patents in question aren’t standards-based, so Motorola does not have to license them. Based on the history of patent litigation involving Apple (and sometimes Motorola) it sounds like the status quo, right?

Not so fast.

We’ve seen Motorola go after folks in the courtroom before, with a mixed bag of results. I hated it then, but it was just one company fighting with another company over your money — in other words, business as usual. But that was all initiated before Google too over the helm. Today’s news is something different.

Don’t be evil

Google has made “Don’t be evil” its company tagline. For the most part, Google has held true to its word. Google finds itself in hot water every now and then, but there’s no malicious intent behind its goals. Better mapping and new pictures for Street View are things they care about. Thinking about all the repercussions and people who have no idea how to secure a Wifi network probably wasn’t even an afterthought. And the deal with using what they call a standard, while knowing Apple’s Safari browser didn’t recognize it as such, to place cookies can be written as some folks at Google thought the +1 button was so cool they wanted it to work anywhere. Stupid, yes. Evil? Well, I don’t think so. 

Again, this is different. Inside I’ve always been able to placate myself by thinking that throughout all this patent nonsense, Google has kept their hands clean. They’ve sued nobody, and fought hard for what they (and I) think is right. That all changed today. Since May, Google is directly responsible for the things Motorola do as a company, and the Motorola name in the middle is just a proxy. Yes, Google says Motorola will be run as a stand-alone venture, but ultimately they have the final word.

While you cheer and say Apple deserves a taste of their own medicine, I’ll be here thinking of the people who might be saving to buy an iPad, only to (potentially) have the opportunity taken away — by Google. That makes me sad, and seeing Android fans cheer in droves makes me even sadder. We pride ourselves on the choice Android and Google give us, so seeing them try to take away a fair choice is not something I can support. Don’t be evil, Google. Even when the other kids on the playground are.

More: WSJ online (paid content)

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