Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mannheim Regional Court postponed Motorola-Microsoft decision by two weeks

When the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Microsoft had requested against Motorola, the assumption was that the Mannheim Regional Court would hand down a ruling on a couple of Motorola Mobility lawsuits over allegedly H.264-essential patents next Tuesday (April 17). At least I didn't find any indication in any of the reports on the Seattle hearing that mentioned a delay, and just two days ago the Mannheim court had still confirmed the 17th. But a Bloomberg report on yesterday's Seattle decision mentions a postponement of the Mannheim decision to May 2, citing the court's spokesman.

I have no doubt that this information is accurate. [Update] On April 13, I went to the Mannheim courthouse (for the pronouncement of a Motorola v. Apple decision), and the postponement was confirmed to me. [/Update]

There are strong indications that the decision to postpone was made today or yesterday. As I always say in connection with such delays, a postponement doesn't mean anything for the likely outcome of the case.

Most of the time, delays are due to the high caseload of courts, especially of patent-specialized courts or, such as in this case, patent-specialized divisions of courts.

That said, the fact that the postponement firstly became known on the day following the Seattle decision makes it a possibility (one of many possibilities, but a somewhat plausible one) that the judge felt this case was no longer urgent because Motorola won't get to immediately trigger the enforcement of an injunction. So if the judge had to make a decision between different cases to postpone (or if he wanted to postpone a ruling in order to have more time to prepare for various upcoming trials), this one would have been a logical choice following the Seattle ruling.

Even without this ruling, there will be a number of smartphone-related events at the Mannheim Regional Court over the next eight days. Trials in cases involving the usual suspects (even including HTC) will take place tomorrow, next Tuesday and the following Friday. Tomorrow morning there will be a decision on a Motorola v. Apple lawsuit (a second Mannheim ruling on the case in which a default judgment was entered last November). There will also be one or two Apple v. Samsung decisions during that period.

Additionally, the Munich I Regional Court will hold a trial on a Microsoft v. Motorola lawsuit next Thursday. So even without the ruling scheduled for Tuesday, there will be a steady stream of smartphone patent litigation news coming out of this country.

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