Monday, June 18, 2012

Apple, Google/Motorola, Microsoft, Oracle and Samsung to meet in different courts this week

In the second half of this week will, several court hearings will take place in connection with smartphone-related patent disputes:

  • On Wednesday (June 20), Judge Richard Posner will hold the Apple v. Motorola injunction hearing in Chicago that Apple requested. There are four Apple patents-in-suit and one Motorola patent-in-suit (a patent essential to the 3G/UMTS standard) to discuss. The fact that Judge Posner was originally inclined to dismiss the entire lawsuit with prejudice (which would have resulted in an immediate appeal to the Federal Circuit) suggests that it won't be easy for either party to win an injunction. For Motorola it will be even more difficult than for Apple since Judge Posner wants Motorola to explain the bearing of FRAND on injunctive relief. There's been some speculation as to whether the judge just wanted to create a better basis for his ruling with a view to an appeal, but I absolutely agree with AllThingsD's John Paczkowski's take that "that’s really beside the point. Both Apple and Motorola now have another opportunity to argue for an injunction against one another's products, which they will no doubt do agressively come next Wednesday."

    Anything can happen.

  • A few hours later, Judge William Alsup will hold a case management conference in San Francisco in Oracle v. Google. The purpose is to "to address what further proceedings are needed in the district court and any other issues counsel wish to raise". The parties will file a joint report later today. In his order, Judge Alsup invited the court-appointed damages expert, Dr. Kearl, "to attend to address contingent planning in the event of any future remand and the need in that event to re-activate Dr. Kearl's participation in a damages trial". I said before that Judge Alsup has taken into consideration all along that his ruling on copyrightability could be overturned by the Federal Circuit. The question is now what the district court should do prior to issuing its final decision, which Oracle has already said it will definitely appeal.

  • On Thursday (June 21), Judge Lucy Koh will hold a hearing in San Jose on the parties' various summary judgment motions in the first Apple v. Samsung litigation. The court hopes that its summary judgment decisions will further narrow the scope of the case ahead of trial, which is scheduled to begin on July 30. Samsung argues that Apple still asserts far too many intellectual property rights and brings too many FRAND-related defenses and counterclaims. Apple, however, believes the current scope of the case would already be triable. If Judge Koh throws out some claims on summary judgment, she may feel that the case is trial-ready. Otherwise she may pressure the parties to withdraw some more of their claims.

    The parties have different strategies at the summary judgment strategies. Samsung engages in area bombardment, attacking all of Apple's claims, while Apple's approach can be described as precision bombing. But since Apple asserts a larger number of intellectual property rights, it's understandable that Samsung decided to attack them all.

  • And we're back to Germany. I've been there all the time, physically speaking, but I mean that the smartphone patent wars return to this country after almost a month of no visible activity. On Friday (June 22), the Mannheim Regional Court will announce two decisions and hold two hearings.

    In the morning the court will rule on an Apple v. Samsung lawsuit over a touch event model patent (in which the validity or suitability of a bank guarantee could prove outcome-determinative) and an Apple v. Motorola lawsuit over a multilingual keyboard patent.

    In the afternoon, the court will hear two Microsoft patent infringement lawsuits against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility. The last event in the German part of the smartphone patent disputes was that Microsoft won a reasonably impactful injunction against Google/Motorola over a multi-part SMS (text message) layer patent in Munich. Microsoft has several more German lawsuits pending against Motorola Mobility in Munich as well as in Mannheim. The trials scheduled for Friday will be the first Microsoft v. Motorola trials in Mannheim, while there have already been two Motorola v. Microsoft trials in that town.

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