Apple and Motorola’s day in court cancelled… for now

Everyone who’s been looking forward to the behind-the-scenes information that’d come from the jury trial between Apple and Motorola in Illinois next week, prepare to be disappointed: The federal judge who was to preside over the trial today canceled the planned proceedings, rejecting damage arguments by both cases. What does this mean for the lawsuit between the companies?

The answer to that question remains somewhat unclear. Although Judge Richard Posner rejected arguments from both Apple and Motorola relating to damages over alleged patent infringement in both directions, in the process removing any need for a jury trial to consider the size of any potential awards – Apple is claiming four patents were infringed by Motorola, Motorola has only one claim against Apple – he has not actually issued any declaration over whether or not infringement has occurred, and if so, what (if any) actions need to be taken to make reparations.

According to the Foss Patents blog, Judge Posner “has not yet decided on whether the parties are entitled to injunctive relief. He is now thinking about this and will enter a written order at a later time.” If he decides that injunctive relief is a possibility in any of the five disputed claims, then there may yet be a trial, albeit a bench trial that would see attorneys presenting their cases directly to Judge Posner without the need for a jury. Also undecided, according to Foss, is whether or not either company will be entitled to declaratory judgment over any of the patent claims.

The dismissal of the jury trial follows a request from the judge last weekend for opinions from each company on whether or how he would still have jurisdiction on declaratory judgment on the claims; while Motorola responded in the negative, Apple was much more accommodating about the idea, saying that, while forgoing a trial would be “a waste of both sides’ resources, and a waste of the considerable energy this Court has expended in getting this case ready for trial,” the company felt that “no other court is as close to reaching a decision on these issues between Motorola and Apple, and a determination regarding liability would greatly aid the parties in bringing their dispute to a resolution.”

For now, both parties – as well as iPhone and Motorola mobile device users who may find themselves owners of devices no longer on the market as a result of a particular end ruling – will have to wait until Judge Posner’s written order before knowing what lies ahead for this lawsuit.

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