updated 08:20 pm EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Judge Posner grants Apple motion, axes another patent
US Court of Appeals (Northern District of Illinois) Judge Richard Posner has granted Apple's motion for summary judgement of non-infringement for yet another patent that Motorola viewed as essential to the underlying technology in the ongoing suit. After the mass-reduction of patents allowed in the suit, Apple is left with four out of an original 16 patents, and Motorola is left with a single patent out of six. Both sides intend to press on, with a trial date set for later this summer.
Motorola's sole remaining patent is US Patent number 6,359,898 -- a "method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system," essentially, a download timer. The same patent allowed Motorola to temporarily obtain an injunction against Apple in the German courts earlier this year.
In theory, Motorola can still win the trial with the single patent. If the single patent is upheld, then the jury's assessment of damages comes into question. Even if Motorola achieves victory in both of these aspects of the trial, a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing claim comes into question in a follow-up legal conflict.
Posner has recently ruled against Apple's request to prohibit quotes from Jobs' authorized biography out of court, declaring the mercurial CEO's remarks about his willingness to "go thermonuclear war on this," in regards to Google's Android phone operating system to be admissible in court. Motorola is a newly-acquired subsidiary of Google, and in the process of the absorption, Google has also acquired all of Motorola's patents and ongoing legal skirmishes.