Judge Richard A Posner has cancelled the trial, originally set down for June 11, citing Apple’s inability to convince the court that it would be able to prove injury. The action was taken by Apple against one of its Android-using competitors, Motorola Mobility, accusing the cellphone pioneer of infringing four patents. Motorola in turn had been accusing Apple of infringing on its own patents.
Judge Posner’s decision means that today’s pre-trial hearing is the final one that pertains to the current action, and if either Apple or Motorola want the jurist’s decision overturned, then they will be forced to take their gripes to the US Court of Appeal. If neither can prevail there, then a totally new lawsuit would be required.
Apple has requested injunctive relief as part of this case, a decision about which was expected later today. “Injunctive relief” is legal talk for a ban on the allegedly infringing device(s) and the judge confirmed he was still considering whether or not it was appropriate. Given Apple’s inability to substantiate its injury claims, however, injunctive relief seems very unlikely.
This is America though, where Apple was granted a patent for swiping a finger on a touchscreen phone to unlock it, among other inane patents, so anything would seem to be possible.
Neither party’s lawyers could be coaxed into making a comment following Judge Posner’s decision to can the trial, and the official spokespeople for Apple and Google (Motorola’s new owner) were similarly devoid of comments.
While there will be more to come in this battle, for the moment Apple’s plans to litigate its competition away have received another setback.