In US federal court this evening, Judge Richard Posner just ruled that the case of Apple v. Motorola will be dismissed in its entirety. The case, in which Apple alleged Motorola was in violation of four of its patents and Motorola was left with one claim in return (the patent counts had originally been higher on both sides), had been in litigation since 2010, most recently with a hearing in Chicago this past Wednesday.
"No more can Apple be permitted to force a trial in federal court the sole outcome of which would be an award of $1."
This isn't the first time Posner has dismissed the case — he had tentatively dismissed it a couple weeks ago, before allowing both sides one more chance to make their case. In his latest ruling, it looks like the reasoning is essentially the same as it was before: neither Apple nor Motorola were able to prove damages in his view, and therefore, an injunction against the sale of any products is unwarranted.
For Motorola, Posner's ruling is huge: it had been hanging on by a thread with just one patent remaining in the fight — a standards-essential patent for GSM that Apple claimed wasn't actually used in practice — and a full ruling in Apple's favor could've put the newly-minted Google subsidiary in the precarious position of facing a portfolio-wide product ban until it could design around Apple's claims. In the end, Posner seemed frustrated at Apple's inability to offer hard numbers: "Both parties have deep pockets," he says in his 38-page decision. "And neither has acknowledged that damages for the infringement of its patents could not be estimated with tolerable certainty."
An appeal by Apple — which declined to comment on this ruling — seems like a reasonable possibility.
Update: Motorola has now provided us with the following comment on today's ruling:
We are pleased that Judge Posner formally dismissed the case against Motorola Mobility. Apple's litigation campaign began with their attempt to assert 15 patents against us. As it relates to Apple's violation of our patents, we will continue our efforts to defend our own innovation.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.