Today Judge Robart issued an Order certifying a Rule 54(b) judgment in the Microsoft v. Motorola case where he had issued a first of its kind RAND rate ruling on Motorola H.264 and 802.11 standard essential patents (SEPs) and sustained the jury verdict that Motorola breached its RAND obligations in offering a license to Microsoft. 

This morning, the Federal Circuit will hold arguments in appeal no. 12-1548, Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., which is the appeal of Judge Posner’s dismissal of both parties’ patent infringement claims for failure to prove entitlement to a remedy (either injunctive relief or damages).  This is a case that could have vast consequences for

Last week, we noted that the Federal Circuit will hold a September 11 oral argument in Apple and Motorola’s appeals of Judge Posner’s June 2012 decision to dismiss the parties’ competing infringement suits.  The “Posner appeal” will provide the Federal Circuit with the opportunity to weigh in on SEP issues in a patent infringement context, such as how the FRAND framework may constrain damages, and whether a party with a FRAND commitment can ever satisfy the eBay standard for an injunction.  But this appeal is not the only one involving Apple, Motorola, and FRAND/SEP issues that is pending before the Federal Circuit.

Also last week, Apple filed its opening brief in this other Federal Circuit appeal — the appeal of Judge Barbara Crabb’s November 2012 decision to dismiss Apple’s FRAND-related breach of contract suit on the eve of trial (after, at least in Judge Crabb’s eyes, Apple failed to commit to entering into a FRAND license at the rate she might set — see this link for a brief refresher on the details of this particular case).  The case before Judge Crabb (and consequently, this appeal) is more like Microsoft’s original complaint in the Microsoft-Motorola case, as opposed to the case before Judge Posner — there are no infringement claims, only claims brought by Apple that relate to Motorola’s alleged violation of its FRAND commitments (breach of contract, antitrust, etc.).  Apple frames the issues in this appeal as follows:

  1. Apple provided evidence that Motorola violated § 2 of the Sherman Act by making deceptive FRAND commitments and by failing to timely disclose its intellectual property. The Noerr-Pennington doctrine immunizes a party from antitrust liability only where the challenged conduct is the petitioning of a government entity. Did the district court err in holding that Apple’s antitrust claim was barred by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine?
  2. Apple would not commit to accept a license offer from Motorola without knowing the price. Did the district court err by dismissing Apple’s contract claims on that basis, where Apple had no contractual obligation to accept any offer from Motorola?
  3. Apple asserted three declaratory judgment claims that would have settled uncertainty regarding Motorola’s patent rights and obligations. Did the district court err in refusing to adjudicate those claims?
  4. Does this Court have exclusive appellate jurisdiction over this appeal because the suit encompasses declaratory judgment claims relating to Motorola’s patent suit?

According to Apple, the answer to each of these questions is a resounding yes.  After the jump, we’ll take a look at Apple’s brief in a bit more detail.
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CAFCLater this month, Adminstrative Law Judge David P. Shaw is expected to issue an Initial Determination in In the Matter of Certain Wireless Devices with 3G Capabilities and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-800), which is the ITC’s Section 337 investigation into InterDigital’s allegations of 3G-essential patent infringement by Huawei, LG Electronics, Nokia, and ZTE.  The upcoming ID, though, will only relate to infringement accusations against Huawei, Nokia, and ZTE — as LG had previously been terminated from the case in July 2012.  LG had been dismissed from the ITC case because LG claimed that InterDigital’s infringement allegations were an “arbitrable dispute” covered by a license agreement between the parties, and that an arbitrator — not the ITC — should decide the infringement issues.  Once the ITC terminated LG from the case, InterDigital appealed this ruling to the Federal Circuit.

Today, in a 2-1 opinion [LINK] written by Judge Sharon Prost (joined by Judge William Bryson, with Judge Alan Lourie dissenting), the Federal Circuit reversed the ITC’s decision and remanded the case to the ITC for further proceedings.  The court held that the ITC erred in terminating LG from the investigation, because the ITC failed to analyze the text of the license agreement to determine whether LG’s arguments regarding the arbitrability of the infringement dispute were “wholly groundless.”  Furthermore, the court found that when the text of the agreement was actually considered, LG’s assertions were indeed “wholly groundless,” and the infringement claims were not subject to arbitration.

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US Supreme CourtBack in September 2012, we posted a Patent Alert on the Federal Circuit’s decision in Medtronic v. Boston Scientific. In that case, the court held that in an action where a licensee in good standing seeks a declaratory judgment of non-infringement (so any counterclaim for infringement would be foreclosed by the existence of the

Earlier this week, we noted that Apple directed the Federal Circuit’s attention to Judge Robart’s Microsoft-Motorola decision in Apple-Motorola “Posner Appeal.”  (For a recap of the parties’ FRAND-related appellate briefing in the case thus far, see our prior posts on Motorola’s opening brief and Apple’s responsive brief).  Yesterday, Motorola’s reply brief became publicly available.

[2013.05.13 Motorola Reply Brief (12-1548)]

In its brief — summarized after the jump — Motorola reiterates its prior arguments to the Federal Circuit that Judge Posner erred in concluding that Motorola could not prove entitlement to either monetary or injunctive relief as compensation for Apple’s alleged infringement.  But Motorola does not just repeat the same arguments it made in its opening brief — it also attempts to address arguments raised by Apple concerning patent hold-up and the effect of the January 2013 FTC-Google consent decree.

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As many commentators have noted, Judge Robart’s Microsoft-Motorola decision may provide a roadmap to courts and parties in other FRAND disputes.  Not surprisingly, Apple recently brought the decision to the attention of both the Federal Circuit (in the appeal of Judge Posner’s decision to dismiss Motorola’s SEP-related claim for damages and injunctive relief) and the

Last Friday, May 10, 2013, in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., No. 2011-1301, the Federal Circuit (en banc) issued a very divided decision in which a majority of the court affirmed that method, computer-readable medium and system patent claims on a computer-implemented invention were not patent eligible under § 101, but there was no majority consensus on the rationale as to why those claims were not patentable subject matter.  As a result, this en banc decision has no precedential value beyond the specific determination of patent eligibility for the particular claims at issue.  The fractured nature of the decision—and even intimations by judges on the court—indicate that this case may be primed for Supreme Court review.

This 135-page decision has seven separate opinions, summarized below.  A few top-level points may be gleaned from them:

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In a post yesterday, we discussed Nokia’s amicus brief submitted “in support of neither party” in the Apple-Motorola FRAND Federal Circuit appeal (Judge Posner edition).  The amicus brief recently filed by BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) is now public, and it is very similar to Nokia’s — at least when it comes to the issue of the availability of injunctive relief.  While not expressly supporting Motorola, BlackBerry echoes Motorola’s (as well as Nokia’s) argument that injunction relief should not be categorically precluded for FRAND-encumbered standard-essential patents.

[2013.05.07 BlackBerry Amicus Brief]

Coincidentally, BlackBerry also now finds itself on the receiving end of a new patent infringement complaint from Canadian non-practicing entity Wi-LAN, which is based on BlackBerry’s alleged infringement of a patent that Wi-LAN claims is essential to the ETSI 3GPP Long-Term Evolution (LTE) telecommunications standard.

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