In a massive defeat for Apple and a mixed victory for Motorola, respected US jurist Richard Posner dismissed the attempted handset ban ‘with prejudice’.
Judge Richard Posner has dismissed Apple’s further legal attempt to ban numerous Motorola smartphones in the US market, labeling the action “against the public interest”. In a case that dates back to 2010, Apple had tried to ban its rival’s handsets, claiming the patents Motorola Mobile allegedly infringed upon were causing the iDevice vendor “harm”.
Oddly though, and as Judge Posner frequently noted during the hearings thus far, Apple was never able to put a credible monetary value on the supposed harm, presumably because it was never actually in the game for fair royalties and penalties, but instead was using the US judicial system to remove its competitor from the marketplace. To ensure, in effect, that it didn’t need to actually compete at all.
Having previously tentatively dismissed the case, the judge relented and offered both parties the opportunity to show harm in a manner more concrete than Apple’s rhetoric and Motorola’s FRAND-encumbered claims. This latest decision comes after Apple once again shot itself in the foot by failing to deliver anything approaching a valid harm argument (since it was presumably never intending to license any infringing patents to Motorola Mobility in the first place), and Motorola in its turn failing to convince the court why a FRAND patent infringement would warrant an injunction.
This further opportunity given by Judge Posner for the parties to present their case will certainly make any appeal of his ruling much less likely to succeed – Apple’s counsel can only prevail in that appeal on the correctness of the ruling as it is applies to the law. And Motorola Mobility will let sleeping dogs lie. Having been given leave to have a second bite at the cherry, and Apple having failed to use that opportunity to show how they were harmed, it’s unlikely that an appeals court will even hear their appeal.
Apple's strategy, demonstrating their true intent, allowed the Judge to dismiss the case ‘with prejudice’, which means that Apple can never again have an injunction heard against those Motorola Mobile phones specifying those particular patents - in other words, the case cannot be re-filed.
Judge Posner summarized the decision with the statement, "Both parties have deep pockets and neither has acknowledged that damages for the infringement of its patents could not be estimated with tolerable certainty."
Unsurprisingly, Apple’s spokespeople refused the opportunity to comment on the outcome. Given the effort and expense that Apple has invested in this case though, and the size of the prize to be gained, it is inevitable that Cupertino’s favourite fruity gadget builder will take the case to appeal.
On the other hand, Motorola’s own spokesperson said… “We are pleased that Judge Posner formally dismissed the case against Motorola Mobility. Apple's litigation campaign began with their attempt to assert 15 patents against us. As it relates to Apple's violation of our patents, we will continue our efforts to defend our own innovation”.
Source: The Verge and others