Judge accuses Apple and Google of using patent trials as “business strategy”

April 12, 2013
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apple-vs-google

The Apple vs Samsung patent clash has been making the headlines the most in the past year or so, but that’s not the only seemingly endless legal dispute starring some of the big tech companies of today. Apple is involved in another such “thermonuclear” war, against Motorola (or shall we say Google?).

Unlike the Sammy conflict, where the Koreans have suffered quite a few bitter and massive defeats (not final, but still), this has seen the two parties splitting their wins. Hence, the two warriors are more or less tied so far, especially that their victories have been mostly minor, adding very few points on the overall scoreboard.

But that’s exactly what has caused the wrath of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Scola in Miami, who has issued an order accusing Apple and Google, among others, of using the courts as a “business strategy”. How come? Well, here’s the explanation in detail:

Most parties that come before the Court are trying to resolve their legal dispute as expeditiously, efficiently, and fairly as possible so that they can get on with their business or personal lives. But in the present case, the parties' obstreperous and cantankerous conduct ... makes it plain that the parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end. That is not a proper use of this court.

Obstreperous and cantankerous? Ouch, that’s rough… I think. Let me check my dictionary. Yes, it is rough indeed. But is it unwarranted? Not at all. In fact, just the Florida Apple vs Google case apparently involves roughly 180 claims related to 12 patents and disputes over the meaning of more than 100 terms. And that’s not counting all the other ongoing patent trials in Illinois, Wisconsin and European courts.

motorola-vs-apple

Still, you’d think Apple and Google have shown good faith and willingness to resolve the Florida dispute, as both parties have agreed the case has to be narrowed down. But that’s not Judge Scola’s opinion, who says “The Court declines the invitation… of mopping up a mess they made by holding a hearing to reduce the size and complexity of the case”.

Instead, the lawyer armies of Cupertino and Mountain View have been given an ultimatum. Either they can agree on which claims to drop by August 5 without involving the court, or the case will be put on hold indefinitely. August 5 is when new briefs are apparently due, while a new hearing has been scheduled for September 30.

We have to mention, before you get a chance to go for Apple’s jugular in the comments section, that this particular suit was filed by Motorola back in January 2012. At the time, Moto was asking for injunctions against the iPhone 4S and the iCloud service, but right now there’s a lot more at stake than that.

You can get a better idea of the complexity of this case at this link here, but beware, headaches are a-coming.

Okay, now you can go all thermonuclear on Apple if you feel like it. Or on Google. Also, let us know what you think of Judge Scola’s claims. Do you agree that Apple and Google are making a mockery of courts and using these patent battles as business strategies?

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