Apple's Cell Phone Patent Case Against Motorola Dismissed as Relief Not Established

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Case Summary:Apple failed to establish a case for either damages or an injunction in its patent infringement case against Motorola smartphones.

Next Step:Jury trial canceled; the court's opinion is expected next week.

By Tony Dutra  


• Case Summary: Apple failed to establish a case for either damages or an injunction in its patent infringement case against Motorola smartphones.  

• Key Takeaway: Jury trial canceled; the court's opinion is expected next week.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Illinois June 7 stopped proceedings in the cell phone patent battle between Apple Inc. and Motorola Mobility Inc. on the eve of a trial that was scheduled to start June 11 (Apple Inc. v. Motorola Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 1:11-cv-08540, order 6/7/11).

“I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief,” Judge Richard A. Posner, sitting by designation from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said in the two-page order.

Patents on Cell Phone Interface.

Apple's complaint identified 15 patents (including 5,946,647; 6,343,263; 6,493,002; and 7,479,949) as infringed by Motorola's Droid, Cliq, and other smartphones.

In its response, Motorola counterclaimed asserting infringement by the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products of six Motorola patents (5,311,516; 5,319,712; 5,490,230; 5,572,193; 6,175,559; and 6,359,898). However, Posner dismissed the counterclaims April 5.

In a May 22 ruling on a Daubert motion, Posner described the Apple '002 patent as claiming the “feature on the toolbar notification window that gives the user basic information about the state of his device, such as battery strength; it's analogous to an automobile's dashboard.”

The '949 patent claims a “horizontal swiping motion” used by cell phone users to move to the next screen. Posner on May 22 rejected Apple's expert testimony on a reasonable royalty related to that patent. “[T]he only evidence that could be provided would be consumer-survey evidence, he said, adding, “it is much too late for Apple to be permitted to conduct a survey.”

No Damages Shown, Injunctive Relief Unavailable.

In the June 7 order, Posner said that Apple acknowledged, in light of the Daubert ruling, that it cannot prove damages for the alleged infringement of the '002 and '949 patents.

As to the '647 and '263 patents, Posner tentatively concluded that Apple failed to create a genuine issue of fact to counter Motorola's motion for summary judgment of noninfringement.

Apple's alternative request to continue the proceedings to consider injunctive relief related to the '002 and '949 patents was to no avail. Posner said:

Because the parties believe that damages are an adequate remedy for the alleged infringements (though they failed to present evidence on damages strong enough to withstand summary judgment), and because injunctive relief would impose costs disproportionate to the harm to the patentee and the benefit of the alleged infringement to the alleged infringer and would be contrary to the public interest, I cannot find a basis for an award of injunctive relief.  

Posner closed by saying he would try to issue a full opinion within a week.

Matthew Douglas Powers of the Tensegrity Law Group, Redwood Shores, Calif., represents Apple. Motorola is represented by Stephen A. Swedlow of Quinn Emanuel, Chicago.

By Tony Dutra  

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