The Apple vs. Motorola patent trial scheduled to start on Monday has now been dismissed with prejudice by Judge Richard Posner, who says that "neither party can establish a right to relief." We'd heard earlier that Judge Posner had canceled the start of the trial but didn't know the extent of his decision to close down proceedings; his latest order makes it clear that neither party has put forth what he considers to be a valid case.
Posner's been openly frustrated with both Motorola and Apple from the start — Apple's attorneys were given a stern warning about filing too many motions in May, for example. His order denying the case is just as tart as you'd expect: he says that neither Apple nor Motorola has proven exactly how much money any of the alleged patent infringements have cost, and that since both sides agree that money will fix everything, there's no reason to block products either. Posner also says that he's just issuing a temporary order for now and he might change his mind as he works up a formal opinion, which he promises to issue sometime next week.
"I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief."
That's a pretty remarkable ruling, but Posner is a pretty remarkable judge — he's one of the most prominent and prolific judges in the entire legal system, and among the most cited judges of all time. He also usually sits on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, so he's not exactly afraid of getting overruled — he's basically moonlighting at the trial level for this case. We'd expect that Apple and Motorola will both appeal this ruling immediately, but we'll wait to see what Judge Posner's formal opinion says next week.
Update: Motorola just gave us its official statement on the judge's ruling, which it obviously views as positive news:
We are pleased by the Illinois trial court's tentative ruling today dismissing Apple's patent claims and look forward to receiving the full decision.