Google-owned Motorola Mobility has withdrawn a patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple Inc., which it brought to the U.S. International Commission Trade, in order to block the importation of some Apple products: iPhones, iPads and iPods. Google’s Motorola Mobility business filed the complaint on August 18 and asked the commission to outlaw the importation of Apple products, claiming Apple had infringed seven patents for functions, including email notifications, voice controls, media players and other features.
In the withdrawal, dated Monday, Motorola Mobility said it had not settled the dispute with Apple, and it asked to withdraw the complaint “without prejudice.” The company reserved the right to renew its case again later. No explanation was given by Motorola Mobility for dropping the complaint. A notice of dismissal was also filled in a companion civil lawsuit filed in a a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.
According to Reuters, Apple did not return phone calls seeking comments about the withdrawal. A spokesman for Google said the Mountain View, California company would “continue to vigorously defend its partners,” a reference to the companies whose mobile devices run on Google’s open operating system, called Android. The U.S International Commission Trade indicated it planned to investigate the Motorola allegation.
Acquired by Google in May, Motorola Mobility filed a separate patent claim against Apple with ITC, which it is continuing. The $1.25 billion deal between Google and Motorola made the latter the key manufacturer of smartphones and holder of patents for the California internet titan’s legal arsenal.
Florian Mueller was the first one to report Google’s withdrawal on his blog, saying that Google withdrew the complaint in order to prevent it from being consolidated with an earlier case, thus slowing the case down. The simplest explanation would be a global settlement deal being reached between the two companies. Mueller stated that “this could be a unilateral goodwill gesture on Google’s part toward Apple if high-level settlement talks are processing well.”
“But it could also be a tactical decision involving a plan to reassert the same claims in federal court,” Mueller continued. According to him, it is more likely that parent company Google didn’t believe that the complaint would succeed in the International Commission Trade.
Motorola was seen as having one of the best legal shots against Apple, with its huge intellectual property collection, and that is what makes this withdrawal so odd. Rumor has it that the company was having trouble getting its evidence in order for the legal proceedings. High-levels talks between the parent company and Apple could also be going on.