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Judge accuses Apple, Google of using courts as 'business strategy' instead of settling

Apple and Google-owned Motorola aren't showing any signs of interest in actually settling their patent disputes, said one federal judge in Florida. Instead, the two firms are more interested in using the courts as a business strategy.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said in Miami on Thursday that the two firms are abusing the court system with their increasingly complex patent case, according to Bloomberg. The patent struggle between Apple and Motorola involves more than 180 claims related to 12 patents, as well as the meaning of more than 100 terms.

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Each party has accused the other of infringing on patents related to wireless technologies. The initial suit was filed in 2010, but it has since grown.

"The parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute," Scola said in an order dated Wednesday, "they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end. This is not a proper use of this court."

Using even more harsh terms, Scola's order declined the request of the two companies that the court intervene to cut down on the complexity of the case.

"Without a hint of irony," the order read, "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 judge's order gave the two companies four months to narrow the case's scope on their own. Should they be unable to reach terms, Scola will then put the case on hold until he can resolve the disputes over the definitions of patent terms.

Motorola's initial 2010 suit named the iPhone, iPod touch, and certain Macs as infringing on patents Motorola held. Those patents included 3G, GPRS, and 802.11 wireless technologies, as well as certain aspects of Apple's antenna designs.

Apple soon responded, filing a countersuit alleging that several Motorola handsets infringed on Apple patents. Apple said Motorola's Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, and six other smartphones infringed on six Apple patents, including "multipoint touchscreen," "object-oriented system locator system," and "ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces."

Even as Google acquired Motorola, the patent struggle continued, with Google executives saying at the time that there were no plans to cease litigation efforts.

In January of last year, Motorola filed for an injunction, seeking to block sales of Apple's iPhone 4S as well as Apple's iCloud service. That suit named six patents that Apple was said to be infringing, including a "receiver having concealed external antenna" and "multiple pager status synchronization system and method." Motorola filed that suit separately from the action begun in 2010, as it was deemed that the 2010 suit was too far along for new patents to be added.