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Patent Wars, Episode V: Apple Strikes Back

It is a dark time for the smartphone market. Although the Blackberry has been destroyed, patent suits have driven handset makers from their hidden laboratories and pursued them across the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded Motorola patent suits, a pair of new lawsuits led by six Apple Multi-Touch and OS patents has established a new complaint for patent infringement on the remote ice world of The Western District of Wisconsin.

Steve Jobs, obsessed with suing Android handset makers, has dispatched thousands of patents into the far reaches of the US court system....

One of the six patents Apple has claimed Motorola is infringing, "Ellipse Fitting for Multi-Touch Surfaces," was awarded only a few weeks ago, right around the same time Motorola filed its lawsuit against Apple.

It's getting to the point now that it seems like every smartphone manufacturer is suing every other manufacturer over some patent or other. Engadget's Nilay Patel posits that Apple's patent suits against HTC and Motorola (the two biggest Android handset makers) are basically a proxy suit against Google itself and its Android operating system, and he's very likely correct. It will be interesting to see what happens when/if Google becomes directly involved in the Patent Wars.

We're unlikely to see a final outcome to this multi-faceted smartphone patent battle for some time to come. Sooner or later (probably later), everything will be resolved, either in the courts or via out-of-court settlements. The most likely outcome? HTC and Motorola will keep making Android handsets, Apple will keep making the iPhone, and the only thing that will change is that someone's wallet will be several million dollars lighter.