A U.S. judge Friday struck down an attempt by Apple to get an injunction against Motorola Mobility products claiming the Google-unit is infringing on technology it owns.
Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. District Court for the Norther District of Illinois handed down a decision on Friday dismissing the legal action between Apple and Motorola Mobility “with prejudice”.
This means that Apple or Motorola cannot file the lawsuit again but it does leave an opening for the decision to be appealed.
However, given the decision handed down by the judge, Apple or Motorola needs to bring something new to the table or argue impossibly well to overturn the decision by Judge Posner. Furthermore, the judge is well-regarded in the legal community so a decision from him is likely to be taken in consideration by other judges.
The judge has been in the news this month after a preliminary decision from the judge indicated his inclination to dismiss the case with prejudice and that he thinks Apple’s and Motorola’s arguments are ridiculous.
In his preliminary opinion, he was quoted as saying:
“[re a slide-to-unlock patent] Apple’s argument is that ‘a tap is a zero-length swipe.’ That’s silly. It’s like saying that a point is a zero-length line.”
“Motorola’s contention that the term has a ‘plain and ordinary meaning’ is ridiculous; Motorola seems to have forgotten that this is a jury trial.”
Furthermore, in a blog post penned by the judge, he also called the U.S. patents system “dysfunctional”, echoing the sentiment a lot of people have previously voiced about the patents system of the country.
In his post, he said:
“The institutional structure of the United States is under stress. We might be in dangerous economic straits if the dollar were not the principal international reserve currency and the eurozone in deep fiscal trouble. We have a huge public debt, dangerously neglected infrastructure, a greatly overextended system of criminal punishment, a seeming inability to come to grips with grave environmental problems such as global warming, a very costly but inadequate educational system, unsound immigration policies, an embarrassing obesity epidemic, an excessively costly health care system, a possible rise in structural unemployment, fiscal crises in state and local governments, a screwed-up tax system, a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions. Our capitalist system needs a lot of work to achieve proper capitalist goals.”
Motorola has won against Apple’s bid to ban its products. Apple had more to gain from this trial as Judge Posner agreed to try Apple’s case regarding one patent it claims Motorola is infringing on. Apple originally argued that three of its patents are being violated by Motorola.
With the case tossed, Motorola will not have its products banned; at least on account of the same patents Apple accused Motorola of infringing with its products.
“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 in his decision on Friday.
About Apple, the judge said, “A patentee cannot base a claim to an injunction on a self-inflicted wound, such as sponsoring a damages expert who prepares a demonstrably inadequate report.”
“In its latest written and oral submissions Apple attempts what I told its legal team at a pretrial conference I would not let it do in the liability trials then envisaged: turn the case into an Apple versus Motorola popularity contest. Apple wanted me to allow into evidence media reports attesting to what a terrific product the iPhone is,” the judge added.
Judge Posner also wrote: “Apple is claiming that Motorola’s phones as a whole ripped off the iPhone as a whole. But Motorola’s desire to sell products that compete with the iPhone is a separate harm — and a perfectly legal one — from any harm caused by patent infringement.”
“The notion that these minor-seeming infringements have cost Apple market share and consumer goodwill is implausible, has virtually no support in the record, and so fails to indicate that the benefits to Apple from an injunction would exceed the costs to Motorola,” the judge said in his ruling.
However, this is also a loss for Motorola as much as it was a win because it stopped Apple’s injunction request. Hence, our title.
“By committing to license its patents on FRAND terms, Motorola committed to license the [patent] to anyone willing to pay a FRAND royalty and thus implicitly acknowledged that a royalty is adequate compensation for a license to use that patent. How could it do otherwise? How could it be permitted to enjoin Apple from using an invention that it contends Apple must use if it wants to make a cell phone with UMTS telecommunications capability — without which it would not be a cell phone,” the judge wrote.
Motorola Mobility actually was the first company to sue in this legal battle with Apple arguing it has to be given an injunction on Apple products based on alleged violations of patents which Apple has license under FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms.