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Apple, Motorola patent claims lack evidence of damages, trial canceled

The trial in a patent infringement suit between Apple and Motorola Mobility that was scheduled to start today was canceled by the presiding judge, saying neither had established a right to relief.

The suit involved claims by both Apple and Motorola that each had infringed mobile-related patents and dated back to 2010. While the judge?s decision means that a jury will not hear arguments about monetary damages.

?It appears that neither Apple or Motorola presented sufficient evidence to support damages for the patent infringement claims that they were pursuing,? said Jason Koslofsky, an attorney with ArentFox LLP, Washington.

?Judge Posner has said that he may change his mind about this ruling, but it looks like the case will be dismissed,? he said.

?He has promised a longer written opinion, which he expects to issue within a week.?

Neither Apple nor Google responded to a request for comment by press deadline.

Dismissal a surprise
In other news involving the iPad maker, Apple has agreed to pay a $2.25 million settlement in Australia over allegations that the company misled consumers about the features of its latest iPad. Specifically, while Apple had touted the new iPad as 4G LTE compatible, users in Australia and Britain are unable to connect to a high-speed 4G LTE Network.

While the number of patents covered by the suit in the Apple, Motorola case had been previously reduced by the judge, still the decision to dismiss the case entirely was a surprise. The case was being heard by U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

?Generally, a dismissal like this would come with a longer window of time before a scheduled trial to avoid trial preparation,? Mr. Koslofsky said. ?However, Judge Posner is known for straightforward and to-the-point legal rulings, so it?s not surprising that he would take this type of action if he believed it was necessary.?

Apple and Motorola continue to pursue intellectual property infringement claims against one another in other countries.

It was the judge?s previous reduction in the number of patents covered by suit ? which brought it down to four for Apple and one for Motorola ? that made it difficult for the companies to prove any damages.

Further litigation possible
The judge said he has tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed but has not entered a final judgment yet. His final opinion is expected to be prepared in a week.

The judge also left open the possibility that he could change his mind during the preparation.

Last month, Google closed its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a deal the company made in part to get a hold of Motorola?s 24,000 patents so it could better protect itself in the litigious mobile space.

Earlier this month, the search giant filed a complaint with the European Union, asking it to investigate whether Nokia and Microsoft transferred patents to an alleged patent troll and are sharing in the revenue generated by those patents, a move the search giant contends could raise prices for mobile devices (see story).

?This could get the parties to discuss a settlement, but they may appeal the dismissal,? Mr. Koslofsky said. ? Apple, at least, appears willing to pursue further litigation.?