Apple's lawsuit against Google's Motorola Mobility unit over alleged
patent abuse was thrown out on Monday just hours before trial, a setback
for the iPhone maker in its efforts to gain leverage in the smartphone
The two rivals were set to square off in a Madison,
Wisconsin federal court over the library of patents Google Inc acquired
along with Motorola for $12.5 billion in May. Apple Inc claimed
Motorola's licensing practices were unfair.
However, late last
week District Judge Barbara Crabb questioned whether she had the legal
authority to hear Apple's claims, and on Monday she dismissed the case.
Google spokeswoman said the company was pleased with the order, while
an Apple representative declined to comment. In a legal brief filed
after Crabb's ruling, Apple contended that the judge does indeed have
the authority to hear its claims.
Lea Shaver, an intellectual
property professor at Indiana University School of Law, said a ruling
against Google would have diminished Motorola's patents as an effective
bargaining chip in settlement negotiations.
"This puts Apple back into the position it was before," Shaver said.
and Microsoft Corp have been litigating in courts around the world
against Google and partners like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which use
the Android operating system on their mobile devices.
contends that Android is basically a copy of its iOS smartphone
software, and Microsoft holds patents that it contends cover a number of
Android features. Microsoft is set for a trial against Motorola in
Seattle next week in a case with similar issues as the Apple matter in
Apple and Microsoft accuse Google of demanding too high
a royalty for some of its so-called standard essential patents.
Motorola promised to license those patents on fair terms, they argue, in
exchange for Motorola technology being adopted as an industry standard.
Wisconsin, Crabb had ruled during the run-up to trial that she might
decide what a fair royalty for Motorola's patents should be.
in a court filing last week, Apple argued that it would not consider
itself bound by Crabb's rate if it exceeded $1 per Apple phone.
Apple's position, Crabb questioned whether she had the power to issue
merely an advisory opinion. "It has become clear that Apple's interest
in a license is qualified," Crabb wrote on Friday.
Microsoft, by contrast, has agreed to live with whatever terms U.S. District Judge James Robart sets at the Seattle trial.
Wisconsin, the trial was scheduled to begin Monday afternoon in
Madison, but Crabb dismissed the case during a morning hearing. If Apple
cannot convince Crabb to reconsider, then the matter could be appealed.
its statement, Google said Motorola has long offered licensing at
reasonable rates. "We remain interested in reaching an agreement with
Apple," the company said.
The case in U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin is Apple Inc. v. Motorola Mobility Inc., No. 11-cv-178.
© Thomson Reuters 2012