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Motorola faces new lawsuit

Patent licensing company Intellectual Ventures is accusing the handset maker of infringing six patents

Patent licensing company Intellectual Ventures has set its sights on Motorola with a new lawsuit charging the handset maker with infringing six patents.

The patents cover a wide range of technologies related to text messaging, docking stations and pushing software out to devices.

Intellectual Ventures, which owns 35,000 patents, said it approached Motorola in January about licensing patents, including several named in the case, according to the lawsuit. Motorola refused to license the patents, Intellectual Ventures said.

Motorola, which is the subject of several other patent lawsuits, declined to comment on the dispute.

The suit names a number of Motorola products as infringing, including the Atrix, Photon 4G, Milestone, Triumph and Brute i680.

Though Intellectual Ventures said it first approached Motorola in January, records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that all but one of the patents were transferred to the company in July and September.

It's up to patent holders to file documents showing transfer of ownership with the patent office, so the discrepancy of timing probably means only that the company was slow in doing its paperwork, said David Mixon, a patent attorney with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

While patent lawsuits have become commonplace in the mobile industry, this one has a unique twist. Google, which recently announced plans to acquire Motorola, is an investor in Intellectual Ventures, patent expert Florian Mueller noted in a blog post Thursday.

That doesn't make Google fully responsible for the suit against Motorola. Intellectual Ventures operates like a group of companies, and Google did not invest in the arm that filed the lawsuit, Mueller wrote. However, Google's investment lent legitimacy to a company whose lawsuit now targets Android, a Google creation. Mueller concluded that, as an investor, "Google played a key role in turning IV into what it is and it should never give money to... any company setting up patent funds without taking care of the Android ecosystem at large."

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com


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