After deciding to dismiss an U.S. Apple vs Motorola lawsuit a few weeks ago, only to change his mind and allow the parties to present their arguments in a Chicago court, Federal Judge Richard Posner presided over a new Apple vs Motorola hearing yesterday.

The judge was not impressed with the arguments of either side, with each party trying to ban the other’s products in the U.S. for alleged patent infringement. During the hearing he tried to understand why Apple wants to obtain a sales ban against certain Motorola products instead of agreeing to a cross licensing scheme, which would have Motorola pay a sum of money to Apple for the patents it allegedly infringes.

Apple’s counsel said that it’s the company’s right to choose to pursue an injunction against Motorola devices rather than seek compulsory licensing from the court and that it would be difficult to measure the harm done by the infringing products.

In his turn, Posner argued that Apple failed to prepare a “good damages case” and that an injunction could have “really catastrophic effects” for Motorola. Even so, Apple said it’s not trying to stop Motorola from selling Android phones. Instead, the company wants Motorola to replace the technology that’s allegedly infringing with solutions of its own.

There are several patents in play in the U.S. Apple vs Motorola conflict, four for Apple and just one for Motorola. Apple seems to be slightly advantaged because one of the patents asserted against Motorola is the “data tapping” patent, which was succesfully used to obtain an ITC import ban against certain HTC Android devices. Moreover, the patent Motorola is using against Apple is a FRAND patent, or a standards patent, which Motorola can’t really take advantage of to obtain an injunction against Apple products.

motorola razr vs apple iphone 4s

Here are the patents in play as described by The Verge:

The ongoing case currently involves four Apple patents:

  • 6,493,002 — covers a status window, such as a notification window, laid over the top of the regular program / app display window and having one or more interactive icons or display modules.
  • 6,343,263 — covers signal processing APIs, such as video-image processing, allowing for realtime interaction between two or more subsystems.
  • 7,479,949 — covers multi-dimensional scrolling heuristics. For instance, an upward or downward finger swipe that starts off along an angular path, that’s not perfectly vertical, will still be interpreted and locked in as a pure vertical movement to prevent horizontal scrolling.
  • 5,946,647 — this is the infamous “data tapping” patent for automatically converting things like phone numbers and email addresses into actionable links that open a menu of options, like calling the number or adding the number to your contact list.

Meanwhile,Motorola is asserting US patent 6,359,898, which is frequently referred to as “the countdown patent” and involves some efficiency tweaks in cellular communications that are considered standards-essential to GSM.

Posner did not seem impressed with the current Apple vs Android worldwide conflict either or by the possibility of Apple suing Motorola again in the future, in case Motorola will continue to infringe some of these patents in Apple’s opinion. But even though it appears that he clearly opposes injunctions in such cases where the features described by the patents in play are not always clearly recognizable to device users, the judge did not make any rulings today.

We’re surely going to hear more about this Apple vs Motorola case – or better said Apple vs Google, since the Search giant bought Moto – so stay tuned as we follow this complex legal fight!

  • xyz

    The patent office rules need to be amended. The patent 5,946,647 should be a frand patent….how else are you supposed to fulfill that function. Its like ferrari suing lamborghini for making fast cars. Apple and other companies are using patents as weapons to hurt competitors in the financial sense. Late 90’s microsoft image was damaged over the browser war fiasco….now it’s patents…Apple wishes to block the selling of certain products for one reason; and it’s not because company abc has used one of there patents in the products……..reduce your competitors at all costs = more potential customers for your own products.

    • AppleFUD

      The idea of patents was for others to be able to use the idea patented, not for companies to block others from using the idea. That’s why patents are *publicly available* to everyone. In return the patent holder gets royalties — some compensation for their hard work in coming up with the idea. Now we have douche-nozzle companies like apple that try to use patents for anti-competitive means and nothing more.

      This is where the courts needs to take a stand and say, “sorry you aren’t getting a ban on anything. You can have a fair royalty for the patent if you can prove it is worth something or you can get nothing, but NO ban on devices!”

      Do that and I bet we see some company behavior changes at apple asap. . . not that they’ll be any less of a douche-nozzle of a company — they really are earning the name “Crapple” these days.

  • tBs_Battousai

    I still find it hard to believe that no one can prove prior art when it comes to “5,946,647”…
    though slide to unlock had prior art and that was still patented and upheld in a court of law…