FTC slams Motorola’s attempts to ban iPhone, iPad

The FTC filed what’s called an amicus brief with the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals this afternoon, arguing that Google-owned Motorola’s attempts to ban the sale of the iPhone, iPad and other Apple products in the US for allegedly infringing on its patents was ‘inappropriate.’

The Commission feels that since Motorola has already licensed the patents in question under fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms, it had no right to seek an injunction against Apple’s products that supposedly violated them, without offering similar licensing terms…

Here’s an excerpt from the FTC’s press release (via TPM), which helps explains the above-mentioned brief:

“The brief addresses this issue in the context of patent infringement claims that Motorola, Inc. has filed against Apple, Inc. regarding technologies used in iPhones and iPads that allegedly are covered by Motorola’s SEPs.  It concludes that a district court correctly applied the governing legal principles when it dismissed Motorola’s request for an injunction that could have blocked Apple from selling iPhones and iPads in the United States.”

The decision the FTC’s referring to here was that of US Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner to throw out a Apple v. Motorola lawsuit back in June. Interestingly enough, if he hadn’t intervened, the case would have gone to trial, pitting Apple against Google in the courtroom for the first time.

In the lawsuit, Motorola pressed a claim that Apple’s iPhone and iPad infringed on one of its cellular technology patents. The company, who has been making cell phones for 30+ years, owns a host of cellular-related patents, though many of them have been declared standard-essential.

And because they are standard-essential, the FTC agrees with Posner’s decision to not allow Motorola to seek a product injunction on Apple’s products. It, instead, believes that the company should license the patents to Apple under FRAND terms, as it has done for others in the past.

Essentially, the FTC is accusing Motorola of patent abuse, and this isn’t the first time it’s been brought up. Earlier this year, both Apple and Microsoft filed complaints with the European Commission against Motorola over FRAND abuse. Yes, it actually tried to block Xbox sales.