Because so many SEP-related issues have arisen over the past year, we will periodically revisit some of the more important episodes with a brief post. Judge Richard Posner’s June 22, 2012 ruling in the Apple v. Motorola patent infringement litigation in the Northern District of Illinois, and the subsequent appeal to the Federal Circuit fall into this category.
Even people who don’t routinely follow the smartphone patent wars likely are aware of the patent dispute between Motorola and Apple. After prior license negotiations failed, the parties filed dueling patent infringement lawsuits in October 2010. Some of these infringement actions were consolidated in a case before Judge Posner, who sat by designation at the district court. A jury trial was scheduled for June 2012: Apple asserted Motorola infringed claims of four non-standard-essential patents, while Motorola asserted Apple infringed claims of one patent that was essential to the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Standard (UMTS, a 3G cellular standard). But as the trial date approached, Judge Posner excluded all of the parties’ respective expert testimony on damages. Finding that neither party could prove an entitlement to damages, Judge Posner tentatively canceled the jury trial, finding that it would make little sense to hold a jury trial on infringement liability if a party could not receive relief. However, he allowed the parties to submit further briefing, including relating to the potential for equitable remedies such as injunctive relief. Because Motorola asserted an SEP that was encumbered by a FRAND licensing commitment, Judge Posner specifically requested that Motorola address the bearing of FRAND on the injunction analysis.