Los Angeles – Apple and Google are back in court, this time to argue over whether a judge should reopen a case over patented technology featured in their smartphones. The latest in the blow by blow between the two companies happened last week when Motorola Mobility, Inc., a subsidiary of Google, Inc. filed an appeal that an older case be reopened. The original lawsuit, filed in 2010, quickly snowballed into a tangle with each company claiming that the other had infringed the other’s patents by including certain technology in their respective smartphones. Notably, Motorola charged that Apple had infringed one of its most basic essential patents that functions to make the phone power on.
Given the complexity of the original back and forth lawsuits, the cases were consolidated only to be thrown out by famed IP expert Judge Richard Posner. In his dismissal of the cases, Judge Posner found that neither company had presented sufficient evidence to sustain the claims brought forth. It is in response to this dismissal that Motorola petitioned that the case be reopened.
In last week’s hearing, the Google-owned Android operator argued that the case should be remanded so that it may have the chance to prove that Apple should pay for use of its patented technology. The three-judge panel who presided over the hearing focused their questions on whether or not the two companies had tried hard enough to work out a deal between themselves outside of court.
The trio of judges expressed concern that one or both of the companies could be classified as an “unwilling licensee,” referring to a party who does not in good faith attempt to pay to license an invention it has infringed upon. Counsel for Apple argued vigorously on this point, claiming that Apple was far from being an unwilling licensee and that Motorola had unfairly demanded that Apple pay over 12 times what it had asked to license the subject technology in the past.
Aside from the licensing issues, both sides also presented arguments over each other’s expert witnesses. Ultimately, Judge Posner denied one of Apple’s proposed experts and two of Motorola’s. Now that the hearing for remand has taken place, the Federal Circuit appeals court could take up to a year to decide whether or not the lawsuit will be reopened. If it is, depending on the specifics of the ruling, the companies will likely be able to pursue their substantive patent infringement arguments in lower court proceedings.