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Apple files for Wisconsin bench trial, Motorola agrees

updated 08:12 pm EDT, Wed September 26, 2012

ITC-deferred action scheduled for November 5

The ITC-deferred patent counterclaim trial between Apple and Google subsidiary Motorola Mobile has been scheduled for November 5 in the Western District of Wisconsin. On Monday, Apple filed an unopposed motion for the patent suit to be heard as a bench trial. On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Barbara Crabb approved the motion, sending Apple and Google to trial without the encumbrance of a jury. The unopposed nature of the filing is noteworthy, as Motorola Mobility has spoken out against a bench trial in a very similar case versus Microsoft, also scheduled for November.

Patent analyst Florian Mueller believes that "FRAND issues are even less amenable to jury trials than the technical issues relating to patent infringement and validity." The shift to a bench trial will likely result in a speedier resolution of the issues as a result, as there is no jury to educate on the trial issues.

Judge Barbara B. Crabb, judge for the Apple versus Motorola fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) enforcement lawsuit in the Western District of Wisconsin, has entered judgements on several filings entered in the case. Motorola's motion for partial summary judgement of Apple's antitrust concerns has been granted in Motorola's favor, as well as the dismissal of Apple's interference claim regarding its business relationship with Qualcomm. The remainder of the judgements were ruled in Apple's favor, including important clarifications, pointing to the potential legitimacy of Apple's FRAND licensing complaint against Motorola.

Judge Crabb affirmed Motorola's patents being asserted against Apple as FRAND patents. The Judge found that Motorola was obligated to ETSI and the IEEE to license its declared patents on FRAND terms, and Apple is a third-party beneficiary of the contractual obligations to license the technology.

It has come to light in the case that while submitting technical patents to ETSI for standards determination, Motorola didn't reveal any held patents that may need to be used before the adoption of the proposal into the standard, potentially holding back some for future use in litigations such as versus Apple and Microsoft. The Judge's ruling is similar to Judge Robart's decisions regarding the same wireless communications and H.264 patents in Microsoft versus Motorola.

by MacNN Staff



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