Apple avoids Motorola trouble, gets hit with Passbook patent suit

iOS 6
More patent problems down the road?

In August, Motorola filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against Apple, accusing the company of violating seven of its patents.

Nearly all Apple devices currently on the market figured into the complaint, including the iPod touch, several iPhones (including the iPhone 4S ), the iPad 2 and new iPad, as well as MacBook Pros and the MacBook Air.

The ITC was scheduled to look into the filings, but Tuesday Motorola withdrew the complaint, giving Apple somewhat of a reprieve from its recent litigious predicaments.

Had the ITC found Apple in violation of Motorola's patents, it could have imposed a U.S. sales ban on some or all of the products.

However, that brief moment of relief was soon lost when Apple was named in another new suit, this time from a developer alleging Passbook blatantly infringes on several of its patents.

Why Motorola's change of heart?

It's entirely possible Motorola and Apple could've come to some sort of an arrangement or settlement on the patent issue.

However, as Foss Patent pointed out, the motion to dismiss the charges made no mention of a deal between Apple or Motorola over the issue.

Foss Patent's Florian Mueller said the recent appointment of Judge Theodore Essex to the case may have influenced Motorola's decision.

As Mueller noted, Essex "doesn't make things easy for complainants," adding, "[m]aybe it's not just a coincidence that Motorola withdrew its complaint shortly after his appointment."

Earlier this year, HTC withdrew its patent infringement claim against Apple, though in that instance HTC's case was thought to have little merit.

TechRadar has reached out to Motorola, and will update this story if and when a request for comment is returned.

Passbook problems

Despite dodging the proverbial patent bullet from Motorola, Apple now faces a potential suit from yet another company.

Ameranth, a gaming and hospitality software developer, has filed a complaint with the ITC claiming Passbook violates four of its patents.

Introduced in iOS 6, Passbook stores information like boarding passes, coupons, and customer loyalty cards in one convenient location for ease of use.

The patents in question also deal with information storage and management, and to Ameranth, the way Passbook synchronizes that data is a bit too similar.

In the suit, Ameranth not only claimed Apple was aware of the patent violations, but also that one patent in particular (6,384,850) was "cited as a prior art reference in two Apple iPhone patents issued to named inventors Bas Ording and Steven P. Jobs."

Ameranth is looking to recover three times the amount of damages suffered as a result of Apple's infringements.

TechRadar has reached out to Ameranth and Apple, and will update this story if and when a request for comment is returned.

Via CNET (1), (2), Foss Patents