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Apple expands legal attacks to Motorola’s Xoom tablet

Aug 10, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Apple has reportedly petitioned a German court — the same one from which it won an iPad-related preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Pad 10.1 earlier this week — with a complaint against the Motorola Xoom and a tablet from German vendor Jay-Tech. Meanwhile, Open Invention Network (OIN) announced 35 new licensees for its Linux patent protection services.

Apple, which today became the most valuable public company in the world (see farther below), is exerting more legal pressure against Android vendors. Earlier this week, it  successfully petitioned a German court for a preliminary injunction against European sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the grounds that Samsung "slavishly" and unlawfully copied the design and intellectual property (IP) of the iPad. 

In an Aug. 10 FOSS Patents blog entry, open source patent expert Florian Mueller reports that Apple has also filed a similar complaint with the same Düsseldorf district court over the design of the Motorola Xoom Android tablet (pictured).

It was unclear whether the complaint, which was said to be "hidden deep inside" Apple's complaint against Samsung, included an injunction request, or whether the court was still deciding on the complaint.

In addition, Apple filed a complaint against German vendor Jay-Tech over another tablet (featuring an unknown operating system), asking for an injunction, according to Mueller. The Jay-Tech injunction has apparently been granted, Mueller adds, and indeed, no tablets appear to be currently available on Jay-Tech's online store.

According to Mueller, German law tends to frown on injunction requests if the product has been available for some time. While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 started shipping in June in the U.S., and more recently in Europe, the Xoom has been shipping since late February.

"It's possible that Apple has also been aware of the Xoom for too long to file for a preliminary injunction at this stage," writes Mueller.

Apple sued Motorola in early November 2010 for infringing on six patents related to multitouch and other access technologies in its Android smartphones. The suit was a response to a Motorola lawsuit against Apple three weeks before over smartphone-related patents. In April of this year, Apple sued Samsung over separate Android-related patents related to both smartphones and tablets.

Apple has plenty of money to throw at lawyers these days. According to a VentureBeat report, Apple is now the most valuable public company in the world. Apple's stock price closed at $363.69 a share Aug. 10, down 2.7 percent, for a total market value of $337.17 billion. Previous leader Exxon closed at $68.03, down 4.41 percent, for a value of $330.77 billion, says the story.

OIN signs up 35 more companies seeking patent protection

Android vendors currently defending themselves against patent lawsuits — or settling out of court — follow a long line of Linux vendors who have faced similar unhappy choices against Microsoft and other patent holders. For years, Open Invention Network (OIN) has been helping companies protect against patent difficulties by offering open source patent protection services.

In April, Open Invention Network (OIN) announced a 28 percent increase in membership in its patent protection licensing service since the beginning of the year. On Aug. 10, it announced its second-quarter haul, reporting 35 new companies that joined its community of licensees, bringing the total to 260 corporate supporters.

The new members, listed at OIN's website include CentOS, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu, and Twitter. Previous new members included Facebook, Juniper, and Symantec, as well as number of Linux distribution companies and projects.

In its first quarter report, the company said it had signed up 334 corporate supporters, but it now says the total is only 260 corporate supporters. It's unclear whether this was an error that has yet to be fixed, or if some earlier members have left the program.

OIN was established as a defensive patent management organization by IBM, Sony, Philips, Novell, and Red Hat back in 2005. It has since been joined by NEC, and also receives financial contributions from Canonical (Ubuntu), says the group.

OIN acquires patents from universities and other sources, then licenses them royalty-free to companies, universities, and other organizations that agree not to enforce their own patents against Linux and "certain Linux-related applications," says OIN. The group adds that it often works with universities on technology and patent acquisitions, funded research, and defensive publication programs.

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