Apple has been involved in drawn out legal battles against its rivals in a global smartphone patent war for almost three years. Recent setbacks in two key U.S. court cases are showing why long, drawn-out legal battles are bad for Apple.
Last Thursday, Judge Richard Posner in Chicago federal court canceled Apple’s long-awaited trial against Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility division, which makes devices powered by the Internet search company’s Android mobile operating system. The trial had been set to start this week.
Posner cancelled the trial after finding that neither side could prove damages. Apple had requested an injunction barring the sale of Motorola products, but Posner said that would be “contrary to the public interest.”
In addition, in a order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, effectively killed Apple’s hopes of stopping the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S III smartphone. Koh’s reasoning was that Apple’s push to get a court order blocking the June 21 release would overload her calendar, as she is overseeing Apple’s trial over other Samsung devices that is set for July.
It’s true that Apple can appeal Posner’s ruling, and Koh’s directive doesn’t have anything to do with the merits of the case about to go to trial, but delays like these are blows to Apple’s efforts to get quick and favorable resolutions that might give them the edge in the marketplace.
Apple has waged an international battle since 2010 as part of its attempts to limit Android’s presence in the marketplace. Apple’s opponents charge that the iOS device maker is attempting to use the patent lawsuits solely to avoid competition in the marketplace.
A solid victory in one of its U.S. lawsuits would give Apple the upper hand in any negotiations outside of court that would allow the companies to use each others patented technologies.
“The stalemate is much more of a victory for the accused infringers than it is for Apple,” said Brian Love, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies patent litigation.
Apple would be well advised to not get bogged down in it’s global legal crusades against Android, said Paul Berghoff, a Chicago-based patent attorney with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff. (The firm is not involved in any of the litigation.)
“If Apple’s goal still is the Steve Jobs holy war, then the status quo is not in their benefit,” Berghoff said.