Apple vs Motorola: Judge Posner dismisses case with prejudice

June 23, 2012
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Earlier this week, the Apple vs Motorola patent-based case was again brought to our attention as Federal Judge Richard Posner allowed the two parties to appear before him in a new hearing and argue their case one more time. This happened only days after he dismissed Apple’s case altogether, only to have a change of heart and allow the two parties to make a final effort in their independent quests of obtaining an injunction against the other’s products.

Late on Friday, Judge Posner filed a 38-page ruling (embedded below) dismissing the case with prejudice. That means neither party can refile the lawsuit in federal court, although the judge left the door open to appeals. And we can certainly expect Apple to file one in the foreseeable future.

The iPhone maker had the upper hand in this case, as it attacked Motorola with four patents, one of which was the same patent that got Apple a win against HTC at the International Trade Commission – an import ban on infringing HTC products. Also worth mentioning is that Apple is using the same winning patent in other cases against Android device makers, namely Samsung.

On the other hand, Motorola only had one patent to counterattack with, and that was a FRAND patent or a standards patent, which wouldn’t have gotten Motorola very far. Both parties started the battle with more patents but all the other claims were shot down since the trial started back in 2010.

In his earlier discussion with Apple and Motorola, Judge Posner made it clear that he does not appreciate the escalading Apple vs Android conflict in general, and that he’d rather see the two parties reach some sort of settlement, something Apple’s counsel was not likely to consider. At the same time he said that Motorola’s FRAND patent can’t really be used to obtain an injunction against certain products from the competition, and this ruling may harm Motorola in other international legal clashes with Apple. In fact, just like Samsung, Motorola is also investigated by the European Union for its FRAND patent use in such lawsuits.

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But what seems to have been an important factor in his decision to dismiss the trial with prejudice was Apple’s and Motorola’s inability to quantify damages for the infringement of either party’s patents. Therefore, an injunction against the products of either party could not be awarded.

Even though Apple will surely appeal the decision, Motorola seems to be the real winner here – or better said Google, the company that finalized the $12.5 billion purchase of the Android maker in late May. Nevertheless, the legal battle between the two companies is not finished as Motorola and Apple are also fighting it out in international courts, with the German lawsuits between the two giants also worth following.

Here’s Motorola’s comment on yesterday’s ruling:

We are pleased that Judge Posner formally dismissed the case against Motorola Mobility. Apple’s litigation campaign began with their attempt to assert 15 patents against us. As it relates to Apple’s violation of our patents, we will continue our efforts to defend our own innovation.

Apple is yet to comment on the matter, but we’re certainly interested to see whether this particular ruling will have any affect on other patent-based lawsuits initiated by Apple and targeting other Android device makers

6.22 Opinion

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