Judge says Apple, Motorola pursuing business strategy in court

The court said it declines to "mop up a mess" of multiple claims and patents

A court in Florida said that Apple and Motorola Mobility have no interest in quickly and efficiently resolving a patent infringement lawsuit, but are instead using their litigations around the world as "a business strategy that appears to have no end."

Referring to the "parties' obstreperous and cantankerous conduct," Judge Robert N. Scola of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, described it as not a proper use of the court.

The judge was reacting to the litigation before the court which now includes over 180 claims asserted from 12 patents, in which the parties dispute the meaning of over 100 terms from those claims, according to an order which was entered into the court record on Wednesday. "Both Apple and Motorola greatly expanded the scope of this patent litigation by, among other things, supplementing patent infringement and invalidity contentions," the judge wrote.

The parties agree that the case needs to be simplified, primarily through voluntarily agreeing to drop patents and claims from the case, but it is not a surprise that they have been unable to agree on how to accomplish this goal, the judge wrote in his order.

"Without 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 Court declines this invitation," Judge Scola added, while denying the two companies a case management conference to narrow the case.

Setting a Markman hearing for Sept. 20, the judge said he expected the two companies will use the 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," he added.

A Markman claim construction process is used to hear parties on different claims and their specific meanings in a patent infringement suit.

In a filing in March, the two companies told the court that they spent weeks "negotiating a way to mutually reduce the size and complexity of the case, primarily through voluntarily agreeing to drop patents and claims from the case." They submitted in the filing "that the most efficient approach is for the court to schedule a telephonic conference to discuss an orderly approach to reducing the size and complexity of the case."

Motorola, which was acquired by Google last year, accuses Apple of infringing 12 patents in the lawsuit, while Apple has accused Motorola of infringing 10 patents. The lawsuit was filed by Motorola in January last year, its second in the same court, alleging infringement of six patents by Apple.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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