Whilst we’ve seen much rumor and speculation regarding the changes in how patents are used to protect technology, there are still a number of big names embroiled in patent cases across the industry. News today is that a US jury in San Francisco has ordered Motorola Mobility to pay $10.2 million in damages for using Fujifilm Corp’s patented technology in its ‘phones without permission. This dates back from Fujifilm Corp suing Motorola back in 2012 accusing Motorola of infringing three of its digital camera patents and a fourth related to transmitting data over a wireless connection (such as Bluetooth). The trial commended on the 20 April with Fujifilm seeking $40 million in damages. Motorola were bought by Lenovo from Google last year, with many of Motorola’s patents being kept by Google for the benefit of the (Android) industry.
Back in 2012, Fujifilm reported that it had been trying to get Motorola to licence these four patents for a year before filing the complaint. The handsets believed to infringe on the case included the Droid X, Razr, Razr Maxx, Droid Bionic and the Xoom tablet. At the time the lawsuit sought unspecified damages plus attorneys’ fees.
The reason for the amount of damages being considerably less than Fujifilm requested appears to be associated with three of the four patents being considered invalid. These three patents included two regarding facial recognition and a third associated with wireless data transfer. The jury upheld the patent related to converting color images to monochrome. In an emailed statement, Motorola spokesman William Moss said this on the matter: “We are pleased with the verdict related to three out of the four patents and are evaluating our options on the one patent on which we did not prevail.” Fujifilm did not comment. During the trial, Motorola had argued that Fujifilm Corp’s patents should be cancelled because they were neither new nor obvious compared with previously patented inventions. Motorola also hold a license to use Bluetooth technology.
It’s not yet clear what further action may be taken by either Motorola or Fujifilm, but hopefully this example of three patents being cancelled will continue the evolution of patent protection within the mobile technology industry. We will let you know if we hear any more information.