Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Apple and Motorola each filed a pre-hearing brief of more than 800 pages with the ITC

On December 8, 2011 (Thursday of next week), the hearing in the ITC investigation of Motorola's October 2010 complaint against Apple will (finally) start. Unlike district court trials, ITC hearings mark only about the middle of the process. A couple of months after the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) makes an inital determination, and a review by the Commission (the six-member decision-making body at the top of the ITC) typically takes several more months. Nevertheless, an ITC hearing is an important milestone, especially (but not only) for the presentation of testimony.

Both parties have filed their pre-hearing briefs. As a result, ALJ Thomas Pender feels overwhelmed and inundated, and I can see why. In an order entered yesterday, he notes that "[t]he parties in this investigation have each filed a pre-hearing brief in excess of 800 pages" and reminds them of the fact that he has "scheduled only six days for this hearing (not including Dec. 8), which leaves roughly three days each for [Motorola] and [Apple] to put on their cases". The ALJ asks, quite unerstandably, "how the parties can expect to prove the arguments set forth in such breathtakingly large briefs under such time constraints", and he furthermore stresses that they cannot "expect that [he] can review and make sense of the over 1600 pages of briefs (not including the supporting documents) in preparation for the upcoming hearing".

More than 800 pages per party without supporting documents is really huge. But I have seen initial determinations by ALJs that were also hundreds of pages long, not including attachments. Those are complex cases, and in this particular investigation, there's a whole lot at stake.

As I write this, Apple's and Motorola's lawyers are presumably working on executive summaries of their briefs, which the ALJ ordered them to file on or before December 1 (Thursday). Each executive summary has a page limit of 50 pages.

The order also recalls that Motorola recently moved to drop one of its six originally asserted patents (U.S. Patent No. 5,359,317 on a "method and apparatus for selectively storing a portion of a received message in a selective call receiver". But this is still a huge case.

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