Apple Suit vs. Google Over Patents Thrown Out by Judge: Report

Apple's pre-trial statement that it would not pay more than $1 per phone in royalties causes a U.S. judge to reject the case because Apple may not adhere to an unfavorable verdict.

Apple's lawsuit against Google's Motorola Mobility unit over royalties Apple would have to pay to license some of Motorola's mobile phone patents has been thrown out of court by a federal judge in Madison, Wis.

The lawsuit was dismissed Nov. 5 just hours before the trial was set to get under way in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, according to a story by Reuters.

"Apple and Microsoft accuse Google of demanding too high a royalty for some of its so-called standard essential patents," the story reported. "Motorola promised to license those patents on fair terms, they argue, in exchange for Motorola technology being adopted as an industry standard."

In recent weeks, Crabb advised both sides that she "might decide what a fair royalty for Motorola's patents should be," which led Apple to reveal that the company "would not consider itself bound by Crabb's rate if it exceeded $1 per Apple phone."

That stance by Apple apparently forced Crabb's hand when she "questioned whether she had the power to issue merely an advisory opinion" and eventually dismissed the lawsuit, the story reported. "A Google spokeswoman said the company was pleased with the order, while an Apple representative declined to comment. In a legal brief filed after Crabb's ruling, Apple contended that the judge does indeed have the authority to hear its claims."

Apple and Google have been battling in several courts around the world in recent months as they spar over their respective mobile operating systems and innovations. The battles have intensified as Google's Android operating system has become much more popular in the global marketplace, putting it in direct competition with Apple's iOS.

On October, Google Motorola dropped one lawsuit it had filed against Apple that claimed that the iPhone maker had infringed on seven patents related to smartphone features. That patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Google Motorola in August before the U.S. International Trade Commission was dropped without comment.

The dropped case, which was filed against Apple Aug. 17, listed seven patents held by Motorola that alleged infringement by Apple in products such as the iPad, the iPhone and various Mac computers, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. One of the patents describes technology "that allows an audible user input to be converted into a text string," which would appear to describe Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant feature introduced with the Apple iPhone 4S.

Besides Siri, the other Motorola patents that were in the case involved features such as location reminders, phone and video player functions and email notifications. Motorola had said that it filed the complaint because Apple has been uncooperative in negotiations aimed at licensing Motorola's patents to Apple to settle the matter.

In August, reports circulated that Google's and Apple's top executives had been meeting in private to resolve some of those issues, but no specific deals have yet surfaced. The discussions between Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook were reported to include key topics such as the mobile patent disputes that have had the two companies at odds for much of this year so far. Such negotiations could involve cross-licensing deals for their innovations.

Throughout this year, the two companies have been pulling away from past partnerships that had helped them both. Apple has removed Google's YouTube and Google Maps apps from its latest iOS 6 mobile operating system for its devices, while Google has introduced Siri-like voice-activation services for its Android mobile operating system, which is gaining developers and market share and becoming a keen competitor against Apple and iOS.

Google bought the Motorola Mobility unit in May for $12.5 billion as it continues to build up its power and holdings in the battle for a bigger chunk of the mobile marketplace, which continues to grow annually.