As the litigation between Motorola and Apple rages on throughout the country, one judge has had enough of an ever increasing number of claims and patents asserted by both companies. As explained by the district court, "[b]oth Apple and Motorola greatly expanded the scope of this patent litigation by, among other things, supplementing patent infringement and invalidity contentions."
As part of these supplemental infringement and invalidity contentions, the asserted claims and patents dramatically increased. "The litigation now includes over 180 claims asserted from the 12 patents, and the parties dispute the meaning of over 100 terms from those claims."
As a result, the district court noted it would have to address these disputes in a Markman process, which the parties also recognized was not realistic. The parties agreed that the case should be simplified but the parties could not agree on how to achieve that goal. Instead, "[w]ithout a hint of irony, the parties now ask the Court to mop up a mess they made by holding a hearing to reduce the size and complexity of the case."
The district court declined the invitation. "The Court declines this invitation. Most parties that come before the Court are trying to resolve their legal dispute as expeditiously, efficiently, and fairly as possible so that they can get on with their business or personal lives. During the course of litigation, disagreements will necessarily arise--indeed,
one could describe cases as disagreements themselves--and the Court understands its role is to resolve those disagreements, a task it is accustomed to handling. But in the present case, the parties' obstreperous and cantankerous conduct--combined with the existence of similar cases by the same parties or their affiliates throughout the world--makes it plain that the parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end. That is not a proper use of this Court."
The district court did however agree that the Markman hearing should be postponed so that the parties could clean up their own mess. "Perhaps because the parties correctly suspected that the Court would balk at their request to clean up their mess, the parties also suggest delaying the Markman process until they can narrow the case themselves. Since that puts the onus where it belongs, that is what the Court will do."
Accordingly, the district court continued the hearing for four months and issued a warning to both parties. "The Court expects that the parties will use this time to narrow the case to a manageable scope themselves. If the parties cannot make this case manageable, the Court forewarns them that it
intends to stay the litigation while the Markman issues are pending and issue a decision as expeditiously as the parties deserve."
Motorola Mobility, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., Case No. 1:12-cv-20271-SCOLA (S.D. Fla. April 10, 2013)
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.