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Judge cancels Apple patent-infringement trial against Motorola

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Apple's patent-infringement case against Google's Motorola Mobility unit is dead in the water after a U.S. judge aborted the proceedings less than one week before the trial was set to start.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner rejected arguments from both sides on Thursday, effectively canceling the case ahead of its scheduled June 11 start date, reports Bloomberg.

“You have to prove injury,” Judge Posner said at the end of the last pretrial conference.“I’m sorry that it seems to be petering out like this.”

The suit was merely one of a number of cases between the two companies but was significant in that it would have been the first to go to trial since Google officially assimilated Motorola Mobility in March.

Leading up to today's decision, Judge Posner had been extremely critical of filings presented by both sides and seemingly the case in general. In February the judge complained that too many patents were being leveled and asked Apple to "winnow" its claims. This was followed by a critique of Apple's request for certain documents pertaining to Google's takeover of Motorola as being too "vague." Apple's legal tactics were also brought into question as Judge Posner called an early April motion to reconsider "troubling," saying that the document's two main arguments are "flagrant misreadings" of a March order. Most recently the judge said he was tired of "frivolous filings by Apple" and forbade the company from submitting further motions without first moving for leave to file.

The Journal of Legal Studies labeled Judge Posner as being the most-cited U.S. legal scholar of the 20th century and the distinguished 73-year-old jurist is the author of nearly 40 books which range in subject matter from jurisprudence to economics.

Judge Richard A. Posner speaking at the University of Chicago where he is a senior lecturer. | Source: University of Chicago

Apple first filed its case in Wisconsin as a countersuit to a Motorola ITC complaint filed in October 2010. The iPhone maker began by citing six patents, but that number quickly swelled and reached a high-point of 24 in December 2010. As of Thursday, Apple had pared down its claims to include only four patents.

Judge Posner is still deliberating whether to move forward with an Apple request for injunctive relief and said he would issue a statement later today.