Judge Posner Grants Motorola's Summary Judgment Motion of Non-Infringement for Android: Apple v. Motorola

February 6, 2012

In Apple's patent infringement action against Motorola, Apple claimed that certain Motorola devices running the Android operating system infringe two of its network component patents. Motorola moved for summary judgment.

According to the district court, "Claim 1 of the '486 patent describes 'replaceable...component's]' in a layered computing system. (The '852 patent incorporates the replaceable component system of '486 by reference at 13:22-44, and my interpretation of the terms applies equally to both patents' claims.) The use of replaceable components promotes program flexibility and facilitates customization because replaceability enables the user to alter functionality customization because replaceability enables the user to alter functionality within a given program. The prior art was 'application-based,' which meant that users had to accept an application's functionality as is or not use it at all."

Apple asserted that Java objects in the Android Runtime, which facilitates communication between the process and the applications, are infringing "replaceable components." Motorola contended that the phrase "replaceable components" should mean components that are replaceable by Android end-users and, therefore, the Java objects are irreplaceable under that construction.

Apple asserted that an Android developer is a user, citing the Android developers' guide as an instruction manual for replacing components of the Android system. Apple also asserted that even if "user" is confined to consumers there are some consumers who are skilled in Android programming and will customize the phones' functionality.

The district court disagreed, finding that the modification was directed toward Android applications not the Runtime environment. "But the developers' guide is geared towards modification of Android applications, not the Android Runtime environment. It states that 'Android offers developers the ability to build extremely rich and innovative applications,' and that the Android Runtime libraries provides the 'functionality available in the core libraries of the Java programming language' to facilitate application development. 'What is Android?' http://developer.android.com/guide/basics/what-is-android.html (visited Jan. 24, 2012). The parties agree that the Android runtime environment, not the higher-level Android application environment, is the 'software component architecture layer' which must contain replaceable components to infringe the Network Components Patents."

The district court also rejected Apple's expert's theory that because he had replaced Java objects on his Motorola Droid that consumers could so as well. "Apple's expert asserts that he has replaced Java objects in his Motorola Droid X's Android Runtime environment, but has not explained why even sophisticated users would wants to make such modifications, or whether the components he substituted had to be written from scratch. He fails to rebut Motorola's evidence that the components of the Android Runtime environment are not 're-placeable' as the term would be understood by a knowledgeable person in light of the '486 patent specification. The language of the patent specification, which touts the invention's ability to simplify users' experience and spur third-party development of interchangeable components, describes an invention similar to the application layer of the Android system, but not to the Android Runtime layer. Since the existence of meaningfully replaceable components within Android Runtime is a necessary element of Apple's infringement claim, Motorola is entitled to summary judgment of noninfringement. Vivid Technologies, Inc. v. American Science & Engineering, Inc., 200 F.3d 795, 807 (Fed. Cir. 1999)."

Accordingly, on this basis, Motorola obtained summary judgment of non-infringement on these patents.


Apple Inc. and NeXT Software Inc. v. Motorola, Inc. and Motorola Mobility, Inc., Case No. 1:11-cv-08540 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 25, 2012)

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.