A U.S. federal judge Friday ruled that Apple cannot seek an injunction against Motorola Mobility in its smartphone patents lawsuit, tossing out the case "with prejudice," meaning that neither side can refile, although the ruling could be appealed.
Judge Richard Posner of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois had previously ruled that testimony of various expert witnesses was inadmissable and earlier this month tentatively concluded that the case would have to be dismissed. He canceled the trial date, but agreed to a request from Apple for a hearing where both sides could make their case for damages claims. His 38-page ruling issued Friday evening made it clear that he wasn't moved by the arguments he heard.
"It would be ridiculous to dismiss a suit for failure to prove damages and allow the plaintiff to refile the suit so that he could have a second chance to prove damages," Posner wrote, adding that he was therefore dismissing the suit with prejudice.
Posner, who is often described as "outspoken," is an appellate court judge designated to hear the claim in the U.S. District Court, which is based in Chicago. He had previously whittled down Apple's four patent infringement claims to one and during the course of hearing the case had described it as "silly." The language of Friday's ruling indicates that his opinion of the lawsuit's claims did not change over time, though he did not seem any more impressed with Motorola's arguments than he was with Apple's.
Regarding Motorola's attempt to obtain an injunction against Apple related to patents that were licensed under FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms, he wrote: "By committing to license its patents on FRAND terms, Motorola committed to license the [patent] to anyone willing to pay a FRAND royalty and thus implicitly acknowledged that a royalty is adequate compensation for a license to use that patent. How could it do otherwise? How could it be permitted to enjoin Apple from using an invention that it contends Apple must use if it wants to make a cell phone with UMTS telecommunications capability -- without which it would not be a cell phone."
As for Apple's legal maneuvering he wrote: "A patentee cannot base a claim to an injunction on a self-inflicted wound, such as sponsoring a damages expert who prepares a demonstrably inadequate report." He went on to note that "in its latest written and oral submissions Apple attempts what I told its legal team at a pretrial conference I would not let it do in the liability trials then envisaged: turn the case into an Apple versus Motorola popularity contest. Apple wanted me to allow into evidence media reports attesting to what a terrific product the iPhone is."
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