updated 09:30 pm EDT, Wed June 20, 2012
Judge: 'Great, that's all we need, new suits'
Judge Richard A. Posner heard the preliminary injunction arguments from both Apple and Motorola on why each should get an injunction against the other's infringing technology in his Chicago courtroom Wednesday morning. No ruling was offered -- the two-hour hearing was used to receive clarifications on briefs filed by Motorola and Apple since Posner resurrected the trial after dismissing it last week, but product sales injunctions seem unlikely.
Apple continues to assert four patents over Motorola covering pop-up status windows; signal processing APIs; scrolling mechanics; and conversion of phone numbers and email addresses into clickable links, known as the "data tapping" patent. Motorola's lone patent is known as "the countdown patent" and is essentially a download counter that involves some cellular communications efficiency tweaks.
During the hearing, Judge Posner took swipes at both Apple and Motorola. Apple rebuffed the judge's suggestion that it should accept an ongoing royalty over an injunction, and intimated that additional suits could be filed if Motorola doesn't modify their products to Apple's and the court's satisfaction following a three-month injunction period. To this, Posner retorted "great, that's all we need, new suits. There aren't enough lawsuits worldwide between Apple and all the Android manufacturers."
In regards to Motorola's surviving patent, the judge said he couldn't see "how you can have an injunction against the use of a standards-essential patent," a succinct summation of Apple's publicly-stated position that FRAND patents are being abused in lawsuits by Motorola, Google, Samsung and others. Overall, Posner remained skeptical that injunction would be an effective punitive move for either, suggesting that a sales ban would be a disproportionate punishment for violation of standards-essential patents or features that few customers care about. The judge gave no hints toward when he was going to make a final ruling on the bench trial. A follow-up hearing has not been scheduled.
This Motorola versus Apple case began in 2011, with Motorola originally claiming infringement of six patents against Apple's iOS ecosystem, and a simultaenous countersuit of 16 patents Apple said were violated by Motorola's smartphones. Motorola is now a fully-owned subsidiary of Google and with the acquisition came Motorola's patent portfolio and ongoing international legal battles.