Thursday, January 16, 2014

Intellectual Ventures lawsuit against Google's Motorola (over ex-Nokia patents) stays in Miami

It's been a slow week so far in the smartphone patent disputes I watch. There have been some interesting filings, such as in a Qualcomm-related Apple v. Motorola Mobility case in the Southern District of California, but apart from procedural decisions in two Intellectual Ventures v. Motorola Mobility lawsuits, nothing has happened this week that needs to be addressed in detail (if at all) before a decision comes down. I'd like to mention just in passing that an Administrative Law Judge at the ITC has postponed the target date for his initial determination on Samsung's counter-complaint against Ericsson from January 31 to February 28. For what I know, the initial determination on Ericsson's earlier-filed complaint is still due this month. Furthermore, InterDigital has come to realize that its ITC complaint against LG is pointless unless it achieves something on its appeal of the ITC ruling on the 2011 complaint against Nokia, ZTE and Huawei (the latter has settled in the sense that the dispute got referred to arbitration). InterDigital's plan now is to withdraw the complaint with respect to LG but to reserve the right to bring the same claims again should the circumstances change.

The dispute between Intellectual Ventures and Google's Motorola Mobility is interesting in various ways. It's the first dispute in which Google, usually an aggressive enforcer of standard-essential patents (SEPs), raised a FRAND defense (concerning some ex-Nokia patents asserted in the Southern District of Florida). Google, which was among the first major companies ever to finance IV's acquisition of patents (and whose name was used by IV to persuade others to invest as well), has recently denounced IV as a "patent troll".

In the summer, IV accused Google of a "transparent attempt to stall" because it brought a motion to transfer IV's second complaint against Google's Motorola Mobility out of the Southern District of Florida (where IV filed it in June 2013) to the District of Delaware as well as a motion to stay the Miami proceedings pending resolution of the transfer motion. This week Judge Rosenbaum has denied the transfer motion (Google's arguments in favor of Delaware were considered too weak to merit a transfer, especially since it's hard to see why Delaware -- also on the East Coast -- would be more convenient than Florida to witnesses that are mostly based on the West Coast) and, as a result, also denied the motion to stay as moot (this post continues below the document):

14-01-14 Order Denying Motorola Mobility Motion for Transfer by Florian Mueller

A couple of years ago Motorola Mobility successfully opposed a motion by Apple to transfer a lawsuit out of Miami. This time around it's the unsuccessful movant.

Judge Rosenbaum wasn't impressed by Google's argument that an earlier-filed Intellectual Ventures v. Motorola Mobility case is already pending in Delaware. The order notes that a first trial (over three patents) will be held in Delaware next week (starting on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, to be precise). Two of the patents at issue in the Delaware case allegedly read on Google Play, which would (if proven) raise liability issues for Google way beyond Motorola Mobility's Android-based devices.

Meanwhile, Judge Robinson has finalized the special verdict form for next week's Delaware trial -- the '054 and '464 patents are the ones asserted against Google Play:

14-01-15 IV v. Motorola Mobility Special Verdict Form for Jan21 Trial by Florian Mueller

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