The ongoing patent spat between Motorola and Apple has reached an interesting crossroads.
Just recently a German court granted an injunction against sales of many of Apple’s 3G-bearing products, including older model iPhones and the iPad. That injunction held for less than a day, however, pending further review of Motorola’s claims against Apple.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents found new information that suggests Motorola has offered to end the patent dispute and license its wireless patents to Apple — in exchange for 2.25 percent of Apple’s sales. It’s unclear whether this is a percentage of all Apple revenues or, more likely, a percentage of sales of devices which contain a 3G antenna and therefore potentially fall under the umbrella of Motorola’s patent claims.
In either case, Mueller finds the 2.25 percent shakedown “excessive,” and it only takes a glance at Apple’s latest quarterly earnings statement to see that Apple finds it pretty excessive, too.
Revenue from iPhone sales, in aggregate since 2007, amounts to just under US$93 billion. Motorola’s cut of those revenues would have been nearly $2.1 billion over those years. Since the iPhone sales juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down, Motorola’s cash pile would only grow bigger over time — and those numbers don’t include sales of the Wi-Fi + 3G iPad, which Motorola also claims falls afoul of its patents.
What makes this move seem even skeevier is that Google is in the process of trying to acquire Motorola, meaning that if Motorola succeeds in its claim against Apple, Google would eventually be collecting a patent tax on the iPhone and 3G iPad.
Apple has filed motions to obtain information from several other handset vendors, including Nokia, HTC, LG, and Sony Ericsson, presumably to find out how much they’re paying in royalty fees to Motorola for the patents in question. If it turns out that Motorola is demanding more from Apple than it’s demanded from those other companies, the judge in the patent case is going to want to know why.