A United States federal court has tossed the Apple vs. Motorola patents case – with prejudice. That means that neither side can re-file the existing lawsuit, although appeals can be made.
Chicago Judge Richard Posner dismissed Apple’s request for an injunction against Motorola, stating that it would have “catastrophic effects” on the larger mobile device market and its customers. Motorola, meanwhile, was slammed for “trying to use a standards-essential [FRAND] patent to get an injunction against Apple.”
Also bearing on Posner’s decision was the fact that neither Apple nor Motorola actually suffered any damages as a result of the alleged patent infringements.
The patent case, like almost all patent cases, highlighted the problem in the tech field at large. Companies buy (and sit on) large amounts of patents without using them. They follow up by launching lawsuit after lawsuit against their rivals, trying to take the legs out from under anyone who comes even remotely close to actually innovating.
This particular lawsuit started in 2010. Earlier this month, the judge rejected “money-damage theories” from both parties. A jury trial effectively set to commence on June 11 was scrapped due to a “failure of proof.”
Apple and Motorola have scrapped it out over patents for some time now, going tit for tat in the courts for years. Motorola launched an injunction against Apple in October of 2010, sort of a pre-emptive strike against the coming Apple suit.
Apple had four patent infringement claims against Motorola. The judge filed those four claims down to one and described the whole thing as “silly.”
Motorola, meanwhile, was attempting to obtain an injunction against Apple related to FRAND-licensed patents. FRAND refers to “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. This category of patents is critical to the entire smartphone realm, as it helps maintain industry standards. FRAND patents are also known as “standards-essential.” For interest’s sake, Apple currently is embroiled in a lawsuit with HTC over FRAND patents.
Apple is also in a patent lawsuit with Samsung in Australia. That gets underway in July.
Had the case gone to trial, it would’ve been the first time Apple and Motorola met in a courtroom. The two companies perhaps still have that possibility in the wings, with a case pending before the International Trade Commission and other lawsuits occurring in a number of different countries.