Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Motorola sues Apple with Google’s blessing

John Moe Jan 26, 2012

An excerpt from a letter home by a soldier-lawyer, part of Ken Burns’ new documentary series, The Patent Wars

My dearest Millicent,

It grieves my heart to report that we are again in pitched battle against heavily armed opponents. My regiment of attorneys representing Motorola have filed a lawsuit against a most intimidating foe: Apple. We do so knowing full well that the fighting will be fierce and there will be much suffering.

I wish, dear Millicent, that I could report this imbroglio was of our own choosing but in truth we are operating with orders and legal munitions from the generals at Google, who oversee our humble operations.

The goal in this latest battle is a bold one: we seek nothing less than a ban on iPhones, under the claim that such innovations as a hidden antenna violate our patents. If I may be candid, my dearest, I know that our cause will surely not survive and that many motions and briefs will soon lie dead on the courtroom floor.

I sometimes wonder if this damned Patent War is it worth it in the end. How many technologies must be throttled? What price, in the purchase of new devices, must consumers pay? I came to this war believing it was justified and that the forces of Apple must be contained lest they threaten freedom itself. But I fear what I have become.

Your husband,

Robert, esq.

ps text me later, k?


Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.