June 15, 2012

Apple To Finally Fight Google (’s Motorola)

Michael Harper for

Apple will face off against Google´s Motorola next week in the ongoing war between Android and iOS. Though the outcome of this decision seemed shaky when lawyers for the 2 companies left pretrial meetings last week, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner finally decided he would allow a trial next week.

Scheduled for June 20, Judge Posner will hear a case to determine if the two companies can seek injunctions against one another due to various patent infringements. In the one-page court ruling wherein Judge Posner granted this new hearing, he writes, “The parties should be prepared to address the possibility of substitution for an injunction of an equitable decree for a reasonable royalty going forward.”

During a pretrial meeting last week, The Illinois judge told the lawyers for both companies he would reject their expert witness reports and would tentatively dismiss the case altogether, saying neither company could prove they were entitled to damages. Ars Technica even reported Judge Posner seemed unsure if he would allow as much as a bench hearing for the companies to seek injunctions against one another. Now, the two companies will face off in front of Judge Posner as they try to bar one another from using their alleged infringed upon patents.

Just as in the case of Apple v Samsung, Judge Posner asked the two companies to pare down their complaints against one another, choosing only those patents they were most concerned with. Apple was able to limit their complaints to 4 patents, Motorola to one.

Motorola claims Apple is infringing upon one of its cellular communications which concerns a "method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system." According to the FOSS Patents blog, this patent is essential to 3G connectivity and therefore must adhere to Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms. Judge Posner even included this in his report, saying, “If Motorola means to argue for injunctive relief it should be prepared to address the bearing of FRAND on the injunction analysis."

Representatives for both companies did not comment on this new development.

Recently, this sort of fighting between companies over patents, whether large or small, has seen a lot of press. In fact, Motorola has already asked the ITC to ban products from both Apple and Motorola  due to potential patent infringement. The ITC even found in favor of Motorola, saying both Apple´s iPhone and Microsoft´s Xbox have infringed upon Motorola´s patents. Last week, however, the FTC sent out a letter to the ITC saying these kind of bans, injunctions and rulings should be limited, rather than handing them out freely as they´ve been. The issue here is standards essential patents, or patents which cover basic, common use, much like Motorola´s patent listed in this case.

“Hold-up and the threat of hold-up can deter innovation by increasing costs and uncertainty for other industry participants, including those engaged in inventive activity. It can also distort investment and harm consumers by breaking the connection between the value of an invention and its reward – a connection that is the cornerstone of the patent system,” writes the FTC.

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