When you try to think of companies that have a motivation to sue over smartphone patents involving Android, Fujifilm may very well be close to the bottom of the list, but you'd be wrong. The company has recently filed a lawsuit against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility for infringing four of its patents.
The brouhaha began back in April 2011 (for those counting, that's a solid four months before Google even announced its acquisition of the company). Fujifilm claims that several Motorola phones infringe on one or all of the following patents which include, in dramatically oversimplified terms for the layman:
- U.S. Patent 6,144,763 -- A method for converting color images to monochromatic images.
- U.S. Patent 6,915,119 -- A "patent [that] is generally directed to a telephone that can communicate with other devices (e.g., a computer) over a path other than the telephone network." So, a method for a phone communicating via WiFi or Bluetooth, we'd imagine.
- U.S. Patent 7,327,886 -- A patent that "generally concerns face detection in digital photography." So, closer to facial tagging than face unlock.
- U.S. Patent 5,734,427 -- A patent that "generally concerns image processing that allows a high-resolution image captured by an image sensor to be displayed on a lower resolution viewfinder." That one is pretty self-explanatory.
While some of these seem overly broad (in particular, the "phones that communicate via anything but a cell network"), it's still left to be seen if the claims become more specific and if, indeed, Motorola infringes these patents. Fujifilm may be able to make a strong case, particularly in the photography related areas where its IP portfolio is strongest, or it may find some of its patents invalidated. Fujifilm's filing is not overly specific on the details of these patents, so we'll have to wait and see.
The devices the company claims infringe its patents include the Motorola DEFY, CLIQ 2, Droid X2, Droid X, and Droid 2 Global phones. So, it's unlikely that we'll see any injunctions or bans like we've seen in other, more high-profile cases. Once again, this is all about the money.
The two companies have met in the preceding year to work out an arrangement for licensing deals that, obviously, has not panned out. Hence why we're in this situation in the first place. It's also worth noting that the landscape has changed dramatically since Fujifilm first began dealing with Moto. Now, the OEM is owned by Google and a dramatic changing of the guard has happened since the initial meetings took place. There's no telling how this will go down.
What is clear is that the lawsuit-happy companies in the tech industry are showing no signs of slowing down. Mobile patents has become million (if not billion) dollar industry. Anyone who thinks they might have a shot to get in on this action will likely take a shot at it.