John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple vs. Motorola Mobility Matchup Called on Account of Judge’s Annoyance

Richard Posner, the judge presiding over Apple versus Motorola Mobility, has little patience for the companies’ legal teams, and even less for their dilatory arguments.

Earlier this year, Posner upbraided Motorola for what he described as the company’s “ridiculous” approach to claim construction. Then he spanked Apple’s legal team for its “frivolous filings.” And just last week he forbade Apple from insinuating to the jury that the case is a “popularity contest.”

Now he seems to have thrown up his hands entirely.

Late Thursday, Posner canceled the first trial in the case, which was set to begin on Monday, and said he’s considering dismissing it entirely. In a two-page order, Posner said neither Apple nor Motorola Mobility appear to be able to prove damages. “I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief,” Posner said in a temporary order, adding, “I may change my mind.” He promised a longer opinion within a week.

A remarkable twist in one of tech’s most closely watched patent cases. The now-canceled June 11 jury trial would have been the first between the companies since Google closed its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. And it was shaping up to be an intriguing battle.

Over the past few months, the number of patents Apple has in play in the case has been winnowed down to four, and the number Motorola has from six to one — that one a standards-essential patent the company is obligated to license on FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms. Given the recent attention paid to FRAND patents — by regulators in the States and abroad — watching Motorola’s being put up to legal scrutiny in a case like this would have been interesting.

And we may yet have the opportunity. Posner could change his mind, as he indicated. In the meantime, there’s little else to do but wait.

An Apple spokeswoman declined comment on Posner’s order. Motorola Mobility said it was “pleased” with it, and “[looking] forward to receiving the full decision.”

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