Smartphone war continues between Apple and Moto (Google)

by Howard Wolinsky

And the smartphone wars drag on, to paraphrase ‘60s folk singer Donovan.

In the latest from the European front, Apple has asked the European Commission to step in and settle its patent battle with Motorola Mobility, Reuters is reporting.

“Apple's complaint seeks the Commission's intervention with respect to standards-essential patents," Motorola said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The European Commission regulates competition across the 27-country European Union. Google, Apple’s archenemy, is close to completing its $12.5 billion deal to purchase Moto.

The latest Apple move came to light only days after the U.S. Justice Department and the EU gave a green light to Google to buy Motorola. Approvals still are required in Israel, China and Taiwan to complete the acquisition.

On Friday, Motorola said it received a letter from the European Commission’s Competition Directorate-General in which Apple’s claim that Motorola was violating its patents.

Turning up heat

Marc Ferranti said in PC World said the complaint “turns the heat up on a dispute that has been boiling for a while, and which has gained significance since Google recently won E.U. and U.S. approval to acquire Motorola Mobility for its portfolio of patents.” Motorola holds a treasure trove of 17,000 patents.

But this is just the latest salvo in the smartphone legal and regulatory wars.

Apple this month removed some products from its online store in Germany after the Mannheim Regional Court ruled that some iPhone and iPad devices infringe on a Motorola patent. Shortly afterward, the order was suspended, enabling Apple to sell the products again.

Apple won in court in Munich Thursday as a court granted an injunction against some Moto phones for violating Apple patents relating to their onscreen ‘slide to unlock’ feature.

Motorola Mobility accused Apple of infringing on its patents in a Florida court last month. Meanwhile, approval from China is especially troubling for Google in its plan to buy Motorola.

“Getting government approval in China looms as the biggest stumbling block remaining. Google's relationship with China's ruling party has been on shaky ground since the company blamed hackers in that country for breaking into its computers two years ago,” Huffington Post reported. “The breach prompted Google to move its Internet search engine from mainland China in protest of laws requiring some results to be censored.”