Apple Wins Another Legal Battle with Google’s Motorola Unit Involving Push Notifications

by Eric Slivka

motorola_google_logoThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today issued a decision (PDF) upholding a previous ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that Apple did not infringe upon a patent held by Google’s Motorola unit. The ITC had ruled in Apple’s favor last May, but Google/Motorola appealed that decision to the federal courts.

The item in question, Claim 12 of Patent Number 6.272,333, addresses methods for communication between wireless devices and fixed data networks. The specific disagreement between Apple and Motorola centered around whether the deletion of applications capable of receiving of push notifications, thus requiring a status update be sent to the fixed network in order to halt sending of notifications, is covered by the patent. The ITC ruled that such action as implemented by Apple is not covered by the patent, and the appeals court has affirmed that decision today.

Put simply, the change in accessibility of deletion is not the change in accessibility that is communicated to the fixed portion of the network. Rather, what is communicated to the fixed portion of the network is a message indicating that push notifications for the application should be cancelled. This message only indicates that push notifications have been cancelled for the application; it does not inform the fixed portion of the network that the application has been deleted.

The court also ruled that Motorola failed to satisfy a requirement that it demonstrate a technical example of the claimed invention with its Droid 2 handset. According to the court, the Droid 2 and Apple’s devices do use the same relevant features with respect to registering and unregistering for push notifications, but in line with the previous rationale those devices do not implement the exact invention described in the patent.

Apple has faced off with a number of Android device manufacturers in patent battles over the last several years, most notably Samsung, but for the most part Google and Apple have avoided directly targeting each other. But Google became directly involved in the disputes when it acquired Motorola Mobility and its patents in 2011, thereby inheriting existing lawsuits between Apple and Motorola.

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