Apple’s legal strategy may be backfiring. Many companies, such as Samsung, are fighting back, and one of those companies is Google. The search company, and now owner of Motorola, is taking on Apple over a patent for a proximity sensor, and is hoping to block the import of all iPhones into the US because of the patent violation. Although the patent was ruled to be invalid previously, the ruling has gone back and forth between the judge and the United States International Trade Commission. In an attempt to prove that its patent is valuable and its idea for the sensor was actually seen as a breakthrough, Google/Motorola quoted none other than Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs.
Here is an excerpt of Google’s filing in court:
Here, the technology of the ’862 patent was recognized as a ‘breakthrough’ by none other than Apple’s former CEO (Mr. Steve Jobs). On cross examination, Apple’s expert, Mr. Lanning, could not deny that Mr. Jobs himself characterized the incorporation of a proximity sensor into the iPhone as a ‘breakthrough’ to his biographer, Walter Isaacson: ‘[a]nother breakthrough was the sensor that figured out when you put the phone to your ear, so that your lobes didn’t accidentally activate some function.’ [...] The sensor described by Mr. Jobs is the very technology that the ALJ found to infringe. [...] And there can be no doubt that this passage refers to the technology of the ’862 patent: it describes a sensor that prevents the inadvertent actuation of the phone when it is put to the user’s ear. The recognition that the invention of the ’862 patent was a ‘breakthrough’ weighs heavily against a finding of obviousness, particularly since it came from Apple itself.
It is clear that Jobs thought that his proximity sensor was a breakthrough design, and now Google has to prove that its patent is essentially the same technology described by the Apple founder. The downfall for Motorola is that its patent, patent ’862, is for infrared technology that has the same purpose, but was unfortunately not fully developed by the company. The idea of using infrared to stop unwanted actions on the phone was novel for Motorola at the time, the technology used to accomplish this task was not new, and that could weaken the argument against Apple.
What do you think? Do you think that Google’s use of Steve Jobs’ quote will help them in court or do you think it’s a cheap shot at Apple? Do you think Google/Motorola has a chance to achieve an import ban against the iPhone? Use the comments section below and let us know.