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

April 12, 2013

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?

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/lukamlinar Luka Mlinar

    Apple started this lawsuit war. It’s only fair it ends with their annihilation. Kind of reminds me of this one time in Germany….

    • Florian Eichhorn

      This is the first time I leave a comment here so bare with me.

      First of, let me be the first to say to you in the name of all my fellow Germans (and I am fairly certain I can say this without having to check up with them), fuck you.

      With that out of the way, your attitude reminds me of fighting kids. “But Moooooommmmm, he started it!” Who cares? We’re not six anymore so get over it.

      Comments like yours shine a bad light onto the Android community. We know that Android is the superior Platform and has and will continue to dominate the market. We do not need the courts to settle this for us and all these lawsuits are just a giant, childish waste of money.

      To anyone just passing by, please ignore this fanboy, he is just as bad as one of those Apple sheep and should be ignored. Fighting till annihilation has never helped anyone.

      You have managed to show how small minded you are, shine a bad light on the Android community and insult an entire nation with just one comment, hats off to you sir.

      To everyone else, have a good day

      • Smitty

        Wow, you must be new on the internet. Should have just STFU

        • RarestName

          how ’bout no

        • http://twitter.com/lukamlinar Luka Mlinar

          LOL agreed :D

      • On a Clear Day

        I agree with you Florian re the childishness of the comment. Especially the reference to Germany reflects a total lack of understanding of the forces that created WWII and no appreciation of the horrors that the Germans too experienced at the hands of Hitler and then later the Russians. But, then that is the nature of immature people – they don’t think!

        • Florian Eichhorn

          Hey someone knows his history! Well done :)
          Good day to you and thank you for making mine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592707047 Simon Craddock

    Finally someone with common sense stands up in the US.

  • MasterMuffin

    “Obstreperous and cantankerous” Google Translate it is :D

  • Colin

    This is not an Apple vs Google thing. This is the modern business strategy. Copyright everything and get the most money you can from those copyrights. Google, Apple, any company has to assert it’s copyright less a copyright gets asserted against it.

    Now what I found interesting was an idea that Employees who discover an idea are then the copyright owners of that idea. The company where the discovery was made then get to use that copyright for that purpose. Why would this help solve the problem??? There are a few positives, hopefully people will be more generous and would probably prefer profit to litigation. But a better hope is that an employee could demand recompense for their work, not for the breach of Copyright or Product or label or entire marketing strategy. Just an idea but one idea on the problem.

    • On a Clear Day

      Unfortunately, I think we would just trade one form of avarice for another if there were so.

      People are people and corporations are simply large collections of people, and let’s face it there a whole lot of people more than happy to take while the getting is good irrespective of the harm they may cause in the process.

      Perhaps what we need is to revisit both the copyright and patent process and craft the new laws based on preemptively striking down silly filings that patent trolls and corporations who aren’t trying to create value but simply suck life out of others and undermine creativity by using lawsuits.

      Who knows what is the correct answer; certainly not the way the system is working now. But, this is what happens when you graduate around 50,000 lawyers a year with nothing particularly productive to do with their time except find excuses to sue. Not only is the large number of legal “practitioners” an economic drain that makes everything from starting a new business to a simple car accident laden with great risk, but imagine the brain drain; the total for the most part waste of talented, intelligent individuals devoting their entire lives to ambulance chasing type activities because there really isn’t anything truly productive to apply that many lawyers to.

      • Marvin Nakajima

        Perhaps patents should be like trademarks in that they have to be actively used to considered ‘valid’. None of this filing a patent and not using it till you find someone to litigate.

  • AnyManCan

    They’re just now figuring this out? W.O.W. Most of the cases should be tossed out. No one owns the rights to a shape, rectangle with rounded corners. (yes, I know there’s a bit more to it than that, but still…)

    • On a Clear Day

      Joseph Goebbels – one of Adolf Hitler’s main guys – once said:

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      Apple took a page from his book.

  • On a Clear Day

    Judge Scola is to be commended for calling a spade a spade.

    It seems to me that the actions of both Samsung and Google have been more reactionary to being attacked than being the ones first going on the attack. I never heard tell of Samsung’s CEO or the heads of Google saying they were going to go “thermonuclear” as Steve Jobs so famously stated.

    I believe that Apple and Microsoft have decided that it is simply easier not bother to innovate and try to produce truly desirable products. Feeling it is easier to write checks to monstrously sized law firms to do everything possible to hamstring the competition sso that they don’t have to run too fast to keep up.

    I mean, REALLY, who, with a brain in their head these days with the myriad options available in terms of screen size, price points and stellar performance available from Android would – unless they have been drinking Apple kool-aid – would buy that 4 inch screened, slightly gussied up version of 3 year old technology known as the iPhone? Certainly not anyone who wants to get the most from their money and not have to squint to see what they are looking at.

    And look at Microsoft – gee – no one likes their tablet too much, or Windows 8 (did you see where the sales of PCs have actually dropped and part of the suggested reason is that people really just don’t like Windows 8?) – so what does Microsoft do? Produce a new kick ass product that addresses peoples’ concerns?

    Nope. They take out ads trying to put down Google’s Gmail in favor or their own email service.

    The judge is right; this is nothing more than marketing strategy masquerading as justified legal litigation. Time to start fining and holding the companies in contempt of court for bringing spurious lawsuits. There have to be provisions in the legal system to make it monetarily painful for those who bring frivolous lawsuits that are transparently not sincere but malevolent in nature.