Motorola found guilty of infringing on a patent from infamous troll

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Motorola found guilty of infringing on a patent from infamous troll

There was good news and bad news for Motorola in its second round in court with the patent holding firm Intellectual Ventures. A Delaware jury cleared Motorola of infringing on one of IV's wireless patents, but it also said that the cellphone maker infringed on another patent focused on multimedia messaging, Reuters reports. It's not yet known what Motorola will have to pay up -- though it's worth noting Intellectual Ventures recently scored a $17 million win against Symantec. Intellectual Ventures, as you've probably heard, has built quite the reputation as an infamous patent troll. While it licenses its portfolio out to companies like HTC and Samsung, it's more well known for suing tech companies who might be infringing on its intellectual property. A 2011 suit between Motorola and IV ended in a mistrial last year, and the two are also scheduled to start a new trial today around a removable computing device patent.

"We are encouraged by today's verdict," Intellectual Ventures' chief counsel Melissa Finocchio said in a statement. "As we look ahead to the next trial, we remain committed to defending inventor rights and protecting the interests of our investors and customers."

The last part of that statement describes in a nutshell how Intellectual Ventures' founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold views his company. He doesn't see the lawsuits as patent trolling at all, instead he considers going after potential patent infringers as just another mechanism of capitalism at work. And, unfortunately for the tech companies IV typically targets, US patent law still has far to go before it can stop all patent trolls.

There is some hope, though. The America Invents Act, which President Obama signed into law back in 2011, shifted the US to a "first-to-file" patent system that removes some of the loopholes trolls previously used. And last year, the Supreme Court struck down an abstract software patent, which set a precedent against weak patents that merely captured the idea behind a piece of software. Personal Audio, for example, used a patent that described sending files of episodic content over the web as a means to attack podcasters. It also relied on a weak playlist patent to sue Apple and Amazon -- and it ended up getting $8 million from Apple in court.

We're also expecting some big changes over at the US Patent and Trademark office, now that former Google lawyer Michelle Lee is running the joint (after serving as acting director for a few years). She's been outspoken over the need for serious patent reform when she was at Google -- now Lee has a shot at actually making that happen.

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