Google’s Motorola Case Against Apple at ITC to Be Probed

Google Inc. (GOOG)’s patent-infringement complaint targeting Apple Inc. (AAPL) devices, including ones that have the Siri voice-recognition program, will be investigated by a U.S. trade agency.

The U.S. International Trade Commission today said it has begun a formal probe of the complaint filed Aug. 17 by Google’s Motorola Mobility unit. Notice of the investigation was posted on the agency’s website.

Motorola Mobility has said it hopes the complaint puts pressure on Apple to negotiate a cross-licensing deal. The companies have been fighting since at least 2010 after licensing talks failed. Google bought Motorola Mobility to get access to its trove of patents as a bulwark against Apple claims that devices running on Google’s Android operating system are copying unique features of the iPhone.

The handset maker, which Google bought in May for $12.5 billion, claims Apple infringed seven of its patents on features including interactive voice commands, location reminders, e-mail notification and phone/video players. The case seeks a ban on U.S. imports of devices including the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. Apple’s products are made in Asia.

The complaint filed last month didn’t name the iPhone 5 because it won’t be in retail stores until Sept. 21. ITC rules could let Motorola Mobility add the iPhone5 to the list of devices accused of infringing the patents.

Patent Licensing

Apple has said Motorola Mobility is making unreasonable demands for royalties of 2.25 percent of the retail price of every device. The Cupertino, California-based company is appealing an ITC case it lost that claimed Motorola Mobility’s Android phones infringed Apple patents.

Motorola Mobility has a second case against Apple at the agency. It lost on the issue of whether Apple devices infringed Motorola Mobility patents that cover wireless technologies used throughout the industry. The commission last month ordered a judge to review whether there was infringement of a patent related to a sensor that prevents accidental hang-ups or dialing.

The new case is In the Matter of Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing devices, Computers, and Components Thereof, 337-856, and the earlier case is In the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music Data, Processing Data Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-745. Both are in the U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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