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Monday, November 05, 2012, 03:45 pm PT (06:45 pm ET)

Judge dismisses Apple's FRAND-related lawsuit against Motorola

A federal judge on Monday tossed Apple's suit against Motorola, which claimed the Google-owned company was participating in unfair licensing practices regarding declared standards-essential patents, effectively canceling a trial that was over a year and a half in the making.

On the day that an Apple v. Motorola Mobility trial was set to start, Wisconsin District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning Apple must go through an appeals process to reassert the claims.

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Minutes from the dismissal of Wisconsin's Apple v. Motorola FRAND trial.
Source: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin


As noted by FOSS Patent's Florian Mueller, the decision comes after Motorola brought a "motion for guidance" last Tuesday, requesting Apple sign a licensing deal on court-determined terms. Apple subsequently said it would agree to any court terms that put the license at $1 or less per iPhone sold.

Interestingly, Mueller said that Judge Crabb became uncertain about the need for a FRAND trial that was already prepared for by both the court and the two parties. Further cementing the jurist's skepticism was Motorola's argument that, based on Apple's reasoning, the company could later refuse to pay Apple royalties for essential patents.

In response, Apple outlined two separate scenarios in which Motorola would be either bound by the precedent established as an outcome of the trial, or the Cupertino company would build an evidentiary record in the coming months and hold a trial to set the rate for patent cross-licensing.

Judge Crabb was apparently not persuaded by Apple's solution, and chose to toss the trial. Mueller believes the judge was solution oriented and could have helped decide a fair outcome to the FRAND rate-setting trial.

"As long as she considered Apple to be genuinely interested in a solution, as opposed to protracted litigation, she was definitely willing to help put an end to Motorola's wireless SEP assertions against Apple," Mueller wrote. "But when she started to doubt Apple's intentions, the case fell apart."

It is likely that an appeal will follow, though Motorola may face an antitrust lawsuit in the intervening days or weeks, possibly confusing matters for the Wisconsin suit's timeline.