Apple, Motorola Patent Suit to Get New U.S. Court Hearing on June 20

A U.S. District Court judge has granted a new hearing on June 20 for an ongoing patent-infringement lawsuit between Apple and Motorola that the same judge had dismissed only a week earlier. It's apparent, observers say, that one side or another in the case has presented new information that convinced the judge to reopen the case.

A week after tentatively dismissing the ongoing patent-infringement case between Apple and Motorola involving the design of their mobile devices, a U.S. District Court judge has ordered a new hearing in the case for June 20, according to reports.

The order, from Judge Richard Posner from the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, reverses his tentative dismissal of last week when he declared that "neither Apple nor Motorola had successfully provided an argument that supported the rewarding of damages," according to a report by Bloomberg News. €œPosner also said an injunction against either company would have been contrary to the public interest," the Bloomberg report stated.

At the new hearing, the court will listen to both parties as they argue about why they should be entitled to an injunction, according to the report.

The case began in November 2010 when Motorola sued Apple, alleging that Apple had infringed on 18 patents for technology related to Motorola technology for €œearly-state innovations,€ which Apple uses in several of its products and services, such as MobileMe and the App Store, according to an earlier eWEEK report. "The patents additionally relate wireless communication technologies, such as for WiFi and 3G connectivity, antenna design and smartphone technologies for €œwireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multidevice synchronization."

Apple sued Motorola one week later, alleging infringements on patents for multitouch and other touch-screen-related technologies the rival phone maker employs in its popular Android smartphone lineup, according to an earlier eWeek report.

The upcoming hearing next week has significant implications, especially since the $12.5 billion sale of Motorola Mobility to Apple arch-rival Google closed last month, analysts say.

"This is not just a case between Apple and Motorola," said IT analyst Dana Gardner of Interarbor Solutions. "This is the Motorola division now owned by Google. This is not just one handset maker against another handset maker. This is Apple versus Google, which has turned into a real donnybrook."

Last month, Apple announced that it will drop the highly popular Google Maps app from its iPhones and iOS operating system and replace it with Apple's own mapping services, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The Apple-Google battles follow Google's development and the widespread popularity of its Android mobile phone operating system, which is in direct competition with Apple's iOS and products.

"Google and Apple had been partners and ecosystem players, but since the Android system has come out, Apple has viewed Google in the top tier of its enemies," Gardner said. "The underlying issue, though, is that even as the judge was on the brink of throwing this thing out, at least one of the parties came up with something to make him continue the case. That demonstrated the high stakes involved and the fact that these patent issues in the phone and tablet space, if nothing else, are a means of delaying or aggravating each party."

Both Motorola/Google and Apple will fight the battle against each other with a "scorched-earth approach" to the end, he said.

Another analyst, Charles King of Pund-IT, said the case likely goes beyond just the Google-Apple conflicts of late. "Google is the competitor du jour for a lot of companies, but I think we're starting to see in this case that the [alleged patent] infringements were more nitpicky than anything else," King said. "The infringements appear to be very small. They should have been able to figure this out and not dragged it into court."

The fight between the two rivals is certain to continue beyond this case, according to King. "I think the fact that both companies are preparing for a hearing next week is evidence that they both see one another as impediments for their future success."

Earlier this year, Motorola celebrated an initial triumph over Apple, after a U.S. International Trade Commission administrative law judge issued an initial determination finding that Motorola Mobility has not violated any of the three patents listed in an October 2010 lawsuit Apple filed against the Droid maker.

Motorola had also filed a second complaint against Apple with the ITC, accusing Apple of infringing on Motorola patents in technology used in the Apple iPhone, iPad, iTouch and certain Mac computers.