Apple's patent case against Motorola dismissed 'with prejudice'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A U.S. court judge on Friday dismissed Apple's smartphone patent claims against Motorola after holding a rehearing on Wednesday, possibly putting an end to the nearly two-year conflict.

Judge Richard Posner sitting by designation on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed Apple's patent suit against Motorola "with prejudice," meaning that the assertions can't be reargued in front of that particular court, after giving the iPhone maker a second chance at an injunction earlier this week.

The judge, who has been an outspoken critic of Apple's court tactics, temporarily canceled Apple's trial in early June citing lack of injury but decided to rehear the case two weeks later. During the second hearing Apple once again argued for injunctive relief against Motorola's alleged infringement on four patents regarding heuristics, UI elements and wireless technology. The court was unimpressed with both the assertions as well as Apple's injunction request that asked the Droid maker to switch to its own solution within three months.

According to court documents, Judge Posner recommended that Apple license the technology to Motorola instead seeking an injunction which would be "catastrophic" and harmful to consumers. He also noted that merely issuing an injunction wouldn't necessarily stop Apple from reasserting the same claims when Motorola switched to another solution three months later.

On Apple's claims that it had been harmed by Motorola's actions, Judge Posner said that the Cupertino-based company was attempting to leverage precedent set in a 2010 court case involving Microsoft. The presiding judge in that case stated that ?a small company was practicing its patent, onlyto suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customergoodwill as the result of the defendant?s infringing acts. Suchlosses may frequently defy attempts at valuation, particularlywhen the infringing acts significantly change the relevant mar-ket, as occurred here.? To this Judge Posner said, "Apple is not a ?small company?; its market capitalization exceeds that of Google and Microsoft combined. To suggest that it has suffered loss of market share, brand recognition, or customer goodwill as a result of Motorola?s alleged infringement of the patent claims still in play in this caseis wild conjecture."



Judge Posner said that the only reasonable outcome to the case is dismissal, both of Apple's and Motorola's claims, arguing that the case should not be considered moot as the dismissal itself can be appealed. He explains that "even if no appeal were planned, the case would not be moot, because a failure of proof, whether with respect to liability or to remedy, while itends a case does not make the case moot. A dismissal for moot-ness ordinarily (though with exceptions, for example because of voluntary cessation by the defendant of his alleged misconduct, or because the case is capable of repetition but evades review) is without prejudice."

"It would be ridiculous to dismiss a suit for failure to prove damages and allow the plaintiff to refile the suit so that he could have a second chance to prove damages," Judge Posner said. "This case is therefore dismissed with prejudice; a separate order to that effect is being entered today."

The ruling wraps up at least one chapter of the Apple v. Motorola saga that began when the Droid maker filed a complaint with the ITC in 2010 only to be hit shortly after with the Apple countersuit dismissed today. Both parties have the option to appeal the dismissal to a higher court but no official plans to do so have been announced.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 76
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member


    For him to dismiss the case is just asking for an appeal to be filed. Apple isn't likely to let Moto go on infringing on their patents. THey are going to want it stopped even if they are told that they can't prove any actual damages so they get nothing for previous infringement outside of perhaps a license fee that the court might insist they decide the amount. They might also order that if Moto is caught infringing again there will be damages, perhaps preset by the court. 

  • Reply 2 of 76
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    charlituna wrote: »
    For him to dismiss the case is just asking for an appeal to be filed. Apple isn't likely to let Moto go on infringing on their patents. THey are going to want it stopped even if they are told that they can't prove any actual damages so they get nothing for previous infringement outside of perhaps a license fee that the court might insist they decide the amount. They might also order that if Moto is caught infringing again there will be damages, perhaps preset by the court. 

    Exactly. This one goes to the appeals court and is likely to be overturned.

    The way that the case was handled clearly shows abuse of judicial discretion. Furthermore, the entire basis for dismissal is questionable. Specfiically:

    1. Posner pushed Apple to license the technology to Motorola. This is, of course, not something that he has the legal authority to do other than a very serious matter with serious public policy implications. The fact that Microsoft claims that they could work around the patents suggests that there are no such implications. More importantly, by encouraging Apple to license to Motorola, he is acknowledging the validity of the patents.

    2. He then dismisses the patent case. How can he do that after admitting that the patents are valid? He basically contradicted his own argument.

    Furthermore, his argument that Apple can't be harmed because it's bigger than Google and Microsoft is nonsensical. Of course Apple can be harmed. It might not be fatal, but there's nothing that says injunctions can only be issued if the applicant is in danger of extinction.

    This will be overturned before the end of the summer.
  • Reply 3 of 76
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member


    Posner is a respected judge. I doubt that an appeal will be successful. My guess is that both sides just need to move on with respect to this particular case. It's over. There are plenty of other disputes to resolve.

  • Reply 4 of 76
    cycomikocycomiko Posts: 716member


    Likely to be overturned?  


     


    Time will tell, but currently little evidence of this being likely.

  • Reply 5 of 76
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KPOM View Post


    Posner is a respected judge. I doubt that an appeal will be successful. My guess is that both sides just need to move on with respect to this particular case. It's over. There are plenty of other disputes to resolve.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post


    Likely to be overturned?  


     


    Time will tell, but currently little evidence of this being likely.



     


    The fact he pushed Apple to license the patent tacitly indicates he believes there was a violation.  Dismissing the case in view of that is a contradiction.  He is as likely as not to get the case remainded for a re-hearing.  Or he may just get plain overruled.  There isn't much wiggle room.

  • Reply 6 of 76
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    jragosta wrote: »
    More importantly, by encouraging Apple to license to Motorola, he is acknowledging the validity of the patents.
    2. He then dismisses the patent case. How can he do that after admitting that the patents are valid? He basically contradicted his own argument.
    I seem to recall Tim Cook telling Walt Mossberg that the only patents Apple violated were the ones that should be labeled as standard-essential patents and therefore fall under FRAND licensing but have not been because the patent system is broken. I don't know if that is what the judge was getting at but I don't see enough info here to rule it out (and I'm certainly not going to read his entire opinion and order).
  • Reply 7 of 76
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    Exactly. This one goes to the appeals court and is likely to be overturned.

    The way that the case was handled clearly shows abuse of judicial discretion. Furthermore, the entire basis for dismissal is questionable. Specfiically:

    1. Posner pushed Apple to license the technology to Motorola. This is, of course, not something that he has the legal authority to do other than a very serious matter with serious public policy implications. The fact that Microsoft claims that they could work around the patents suggests that there are no such implications. More importantly, by encouraging Apple to license to Motorola, he is acknowledging the validity of the patents.

    2. He then dismisses the patent case. How can he do that after admitting that the patents are valid? He basically contradicted his own argument.

    Furthermore, his argument that Apple can't be harmed because it's bigger than Google and Microsoft is nonsensical. Of course Apple can be harmed. It might not be fatal, but there's nothing that says injunctions can only be issued if the applicant is in danger of extinction.

    This will be overturned before the end of the summer.

     

    1. Judge Posner cites Federal Circuit law for imposing an ongoing royalty (slip op. at 26). Did he get that wrong?2. I don’t recall validity being an issue. Rather, neither party could prove entitlement to damages or an injunction (even assuming infringement). You also misapprehend his discussion of i4i v. Microsoft; he distinguished it from the present facts and concluded that Apple was not able to show that the case applied or demonstrate similar harms (the so-called “wild conjecture”). And I assume you were exaggerating, but the Federal Circuit doesn’t act that fast.
  • Reply 8 of 76
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 609member
    Another black eye for Mr Sewell - perhaps they should let him go now before they start tangling with the DOJ over the e-book price fixing case.
  • Reply 9 of 76
    nijiniji Posts: 288member


    Cook is too smart to let these kinds of lawsuits go any further than they have.


    Cook will choose to litigate those that are meaningful.


    Posner's reference to apple's total size etcetera is the new basis by which in fact claims need to be decided by apple if they are worth it to litigate: apple will need to show a great amount of actual damage before it will win many more lawsuits like this.


    Being  # 1, being the biggest, does matter.


    Go after google in a different way.

  • Reply 10 of 76
    adamcadamc Posts: 574member
    markbyrn wrote: »
    Another black eye for Mr Sewell - perhaps they should let him go now before they start tangling with the DOJ over the e-book price fixing case.

    Agree with you that the chief counsel or whatever you called him have to go. I don't think he is that good in court matters and or his perception of matters important in winning a case is certainly lacking.
  • Reply 11 of 76
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    kpom wrote: »
    Posner is a respected judge. I doubt that an appeal will be successful. My guess is that both sides just need to move on with respect to this particular case. It's over. There are plenty of other disputes to resolve.

    I disagree that this is over -- Apple still has the chance to have it overturned by a higher court and hopefully moved out of Posner's grubby hands, I gotta wonder what his motivation (i.e., prejudice) is with Apple since he requested this case only to spend time "schooling" the attorneys involved and then dumping on it with prejudice.
  • Reply 12 of 76


    I think it's a victory for common sense. Fair play to him.

  • Reply 13 of 76
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AdamC View Post





    Agree with you that the chief counsel or whatever you called him have to go. I don't think he is that good in court matters and or his perception of matters important in winning a case is certainly lacking.


     


    If we assume he wouldn't be working for Apple unless he was competent, then it follows he is probably doing his best with the material available to him.


     


    It is not his fault if the material he has to work with is of poor quality.  With these continual failures in Apple's legal battles, it seems clear Apple is waging a war in which they are shooting blanks.  Apple might think everyone else has copied them, but obviously the other companies have been as careful at avoiding infringing Apples patents as Apple has been to avoid their's - hence the poor quality of what Sewell has to work with.


     


    Android and competing smartphones are not going away via the courts, that is very clear by now.

  • Reply 14 of 76
    sensisensi Posts: 346member


    A frivolous patent lawsuit given the boot with prejudice: a wise judgement and a good news.

  • Reply 15 of 76
    sipsip Posts: 210member


    It isn't all bad news for Apple, given that Motorola first sued Apple and Apple retaliated by countersuing Motorola, so you could argue that this is a (sort of) victory for Apple.


     


    The only prejudice I see here has come from Posner, no matter how well or highly he is regarded. He comes across as very arrogant and anti-Apple.

  • Reply 16 of 76
    rfhjrrfhjr Posts: 44member


    This decision is a real blow to IP and by extension to every innovative company's R & D.  The courts are allowing copycat manufacturers to prosper, denying relief and then saying "live with it."  In the context of the fast pace of product development, infringing companies can start with "borrowed science," establish brand and market, and then come forward with Gen 2 & 3 products with "work arounds."  

  • Reply 17 of 76
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    1. Judge Posner cites Federal Circuit law for imposing an ongoing royalty (slip op. at 26). Did he get that wrong?

    Actually, he did.

    First, he considered an ongoing royalty, but didn't order one. So he acknowledged that Motorola infringed, but didn't do a darned thing about it. Second, ongoing royalty is only appropriate when an injunction causes irreparable harm to the public or serious harm to the infringer over a trivial issue. Apple did not request an immediate injunction. They requested an injunction which took effect after 4 months, giving Motorola time to fix the infringement (since Motorola stated that it was a trivial matter that could easily be fixed).

    So, again, Posner has contradicted himself. On one hand, by arguing for an ongoing royalty, he is stating that the infringement is over a minor matter which is only a small component of the phone. OTOH, he dismisses Apple's suggestion that Motorola be given 4 months to fix the problem out of hand. So what is it? Is it a minor, easily remedied problem or is it instrumental to the device and can't be fixed?

    Then, of course, is the issue where he argues for ongoing royalty in lieu of injunction, but doesn't order any ongoing royalty.
    2. I don’t recall validity being an issue. Rather, neither party could prove entitlement to damages or an injunction (even assuming infringement). You also misapprehend his discussion of i4i v. Microsoft; he distinguished it from the present facts and concluded that Apple was not able to show that the case applied or demonstrate similar harms (the so-called “wild conjecture”). And I assume you were exaggerating, but the Federal Circuit doesn’t act that fast.

    Sure it does. Look at how quickly they overturned Koh's opinion.
  • Reply 18 of 76
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    rfhjr wrote: »
    This decision is a real blow to IP and by extension to every innovative company's R & D.  The courts are allowing copycat manufacturers to prosper, denying relief and then saying "live with it."  In the context of the fast pace of product development, infringing companies can start with "borrowed science," establish brand and market, and then come forward with Gen 2 & 3 products with "work arounds."  

    Yep. It's a scary decision.

    1. Posner admitted infringement.
    2. The patent's validity was not questioned.
    3. Posner refused to even consider an injunction which is clearly allowed by law - even an injunction which gave Motorola more than enough time to fix the problem.
    4. Posner argued for ongoing royalties - and then refused to order them.
    5. Posner simply threw the whole matter out and sent the message that he was not interested in allowing big, rich companies to protect their intellectual property.

    If this doesn't get overturned, he just single-handedly eliminated the US patent system.
  • Reply 19 of 76

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    Exactly. This one goes to the appeals court and is likely to be overturned.


     


    Oh yea? Why? Because you're not happy with the outcome?: All things point to it being very unlikely, especially given Posner's turnover rate (extremely low)


     


     


     


    Quote:


    The way that the case was handled clearly shows abuse of judicial discretion. Furthermore, the entire basis for dismissal is questionable. Specfiically:

    1. Posner pushed Apple to license the technology to Motorola. This is, of course, not something that he has the legal authority to do other than a very serious matter with serious public policy implications. The fact that Microsoft claims that they could work around the patents suggests that there are no such implications. More importantly, by encouraging Apple to license to Motorola, he is acknowledging the validity of the patents.

    2. He then dismisses the patent case. How can he do that after admitting that the patents are valid? He basically contradicted his own argument.

    Furthermore, his argument that Apple can't be harmed because it's bigger than Google and Microsoft is nonsensical. Of course Apple can be harmed. It might not be fatal, but there's nothing that says injunctions can only be issued if the applicant is in danger of extinction.

    .



    Utter nonsense, call a waambulance. 


     


     


     


    Quote:


    This will be overturned before the end of the summer



    LOL, sure. That's some RDF you've got going there, what kind of smokes are available inside?

  • Reply 20 of 76

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Actually, he did.


     


    Oh so you're now a judge and know more than one most respected judges in the country. Stop. 

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