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Apple-Moto patent gripe almost thrown out the door

US judge 'tentatively' dismisses IP lawsuit

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A US judge has finally gotten as sick of patent cases as the rest of the world and all but thrown out an Apple v Motorola Mobility lawsuit.

Judge Richard Posner has issued a tentative view that the case should be dismissed with prejudice, which would mean that neither of the companies could bring up their whinges again, and cancelled the beginning of the trial.

The "tentative" bit is legalese for the judge not being quite sure yet, but at the moment he reckons that neither of the warring firms have enough evidence to get any damages off each other and that's enough to stop the trial from starting.

He said that he would decide for definite within a week, when he would issue his full opinion, but he warned that he could still change his mind and allow the trial to go ahead.

Both the fruity firm and the now-Google-owned mobile maker were looking for injunctions as well, but Posner said that bans were out of the question.

"Injunctive relieve would impose costs disproportionate to the harm to the patentee and the benefit of the alleged infringement to the alleged infringer and would be contrary to the public interest," he said. "I cannot find a basis for an award of injunctive relief."

Despite the myriad battles between Apple and companies that use Android in their phones (so really against Google), this case had been whittled down already to just two patents on Apple's side and one infringement alleged by Motorola.

Tech lovers everywhere will be hoping that this is the beginning of the end for the Great Patent Wars, so that smartphone-makers can go back to making cool products, while Google is no doubt happy to avoid what would have been the first direct confrontation with the fruity firm since its acquisition of Motorola closed.

But Apple is perhaps not so pleased, since it was fighting to the end to get something out of the case. Judge Posner said that the iPhone-maker had urged him to hold a full evidentiary hearing on its attempt to get a ban at the last minute – at the end of the hearing yesterday afternoon.

The judge also said that Apple wanted declaratory relief, where he would assign rights and duties concerning the patents to the two firms, if no injunction was forthcoming.

Neither Google nor Apple had returned a request for comment at the time of publication. ®

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