Monday, May 14, 2012, 11:50 pm PT (02:50 am ET)
Apple v. Motorola, HTC case consolidated; Psystar Supreme Court appeal deniedApple got its wish to consolidate a trial filed by Motorola Mobility in the Southern District of Florida with a second lawsuit that also involves HTC. Meanwhile, an appeal by Mac clone maker Psystar to the U.S. Supreme Court in Apple's copyright infringement case against it has been denied
Apple, Motorola, HTC
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents reported on Monday that Apple had won a "fairly useful case management victory" in its disagreement with Motorola Mobility. Federal Judge Robert Scola granted Apple's request to fully consolidate Motorola's case against Apple with Apple's case against Motorola and HTC.
Both of Apple's competitors had opposed the move. Mueller notes that HTC will have to hope for a successful motion to sever or else defend itself alongside Motorola.
Judge Scola did, however, grant HTC's request for a later trial date. The trial for the newly-consolidated case has been set for April 2014. Apple had proposed a December 2013 trial date, while Motorola had sought March 2013.
The judge said he issued the order to consolidate the cases because "the parties [Apple, Motorola, HTC] have shown a complete inability to agree upon anything and it is frustrating the progress of these cases."
"Motorola has just lost its only realistic near-term chance to enforce any non-standard-essential U.S. patent against Apple," Mueller noted. "In Florida, Motorola now has the worst of both worlds: it has to deal with a somewhat-inflated lawsuit (12 Apple patents, 12 Motorola patents and, at least for now, a third defendant (HTC) on board) that apparently won't be resolved for about two years."
The one concession Motorola received on Monday was permission by the court to add six more patents to its complaint, bringing the total to 12.
Mueller went on to point out that Motorola appeared to have made a mistake in its legal strategy. After a judge blocked Motorola's attempts to the iPhone 4S and iCloud to its lawsuit, the company then decided to file a second lawsuit against Apple. The iPhone maker then responded with its own counterclaim, asserting six more patents against Motorola and simultaneously wielding them against HTC.
"Apple's strategy has worked out," Mueller said. "It cleverly leveraged Motorola's second Florida lawsuit. Motorola wanted too much too soon — in retrospect, Motorola presumably regrets having brought that second Florida lawsuit instead of waiting until the first case at least had an absolutely firm trial date."
According to the report, it's possible that HTC could succeed in transferring its portion of the case to a different court, though the Taiwanese handset maker will not likely be granted its request to move the claims to Delaware.
The legal battle between Apple and Motorola includes ongoing cases in California, Illinois and Europe. One judge recently accused Apple of submitting too many "frivolous filings" and threatened to punish the company if it continued to do so. Motorola has succeeded in winning an injunction against push notifications in Apple's iCloud service, though the company is also being investigated by the European Commission for suspected abuse of its standards-essential patents.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday Psystar's appeal of an earlier decision that it had violated Apple's copyrights by selling its "OpenMac" computers, CNet reports.
Psystar lost an attempt to appeal last September after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with Apple. The original decision, which banned Pystar from selling hardware running Apple's operating system, dates back to December 2009. Shortly after the decision, Psystar's attorney revealed that the company would be "shutting things down immediately"
Apple first sued Psystar in 2008 in an effort to block the company from selling its knock-off computers. Psystar also sold software that helped users install Mac OS X 10.6 on compatible PCs.
Earlier this year, Apple lost a fight to keep some of its "trade secrets" sealed in its case against Psystar. Judge William Alsup ruled that the information in question was already "publicly available."
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