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Does dismissal of Apple, Motorola suits have implications for other patent cases?

The judge hearing patent infringement claims by Apple and Motorola against each other has dismissed the case, finding that neither side proved damages were in order.

The finding was not unexpected as the judge had previously cancelled the case?s trial date and rejected each side?s claims for monetary damages, saying at the time that he expected he would be dismissing the case. While last minute arguments were made in the case, these failed to sway the judge.

?In terms of evaluating the long-term impact of this, I think it is far too early to say,? said C. Graham Gerst, partner at Global IP Law Group LLC, Chicago. ?We have to see what the Federal Circuit court does with his opinion ? they could reverse what he has done in a number of cases.

?However, if the Federal Circuit allows the opinion on damages to hold, that opinion could make it significantly more challenging and expensive to prove damages in patent infringement scenarios, he said.

Dismissed with prejudice
Overall, between the May opinion and this most recent opinion, Judge Posner put forth more strict ideas related to the rewarding of damages in patent infringement cases. If his opinions are not reversed on appeal, this could have implications for the mobile industry, where many companies are using patent infringement litigation as a way to shore up their positions.

?The judge criticized the way courts have engaged in these matters for more than 30 years,? Mr. Gerst said. ?I expect people will be watching to see if his arguments withstand Federal Circuit review.?

Apple was seeking an order preventing Motorola from alleged infringement related to four of its patents while Motorola wanted to bar Apple from engaging in alleged infringement related to one of its patents.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means neither party can refile, although an appeal is still possible.

?Apple is complaining that Motorola?s phones as a whole ripped off the iPhone as a whole,? said U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner in his opinion and court order issued last week. ?But Motorola?s desire to sell products that compete with the iPhone is a separate harm?and a perfectly legal one?from any harm caused by patent infringement.?

The judge wrote that Motorola also had not shown that damages would be an adequate remedy.

Eleventh hour appeals
The suit, which originates from 2010, had been previously narrowed in scope by the judge (see story).

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

?You have to view this decision as a continuation of the decision that Judge Posner entered at the end of May,? Global IP's Mr. Gerst said. ?When the judge excluded both sides? damages experts, the two sides were left scrambling to fill the gap in their cases.

?In this latest opinion, the judge found that their 11th hour attempts were insufficient in his view to warrant a trail,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York