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Apple and Google patent dispute has no end in sight, judge says

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Apple and Google's ongoing, multi-venue, litigation war over mobile patents has "no end" in sight, according to a US district court judge in Miami, Florida, who excoriated both companies for using their lawsuits as "business strategy," in an order issued yesterday. "The parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute; they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end," wrote Judge Robert Scola. "That is not a proper use of this court." He also accused both of "obstreperous and cantankerous conduct."

"obstreperous and cantankerous conduct."

The judge's order requires both companies to work together to narrow the scope of this particular dispute from over 180 separate claims involving 12 patents, within four months, by August 5, 2013. If they can't do that, the case will be put on hold. Prior to being acquired by Google, Motorola Mobility first launched one case against Apple in Florida in 2010 and filed another one in January 2012, accusing Apple of infringing on Motorola technology with the iPhone 4S and iCloud. The cases have since been combined into one.

Still, the same judge, Robert Scola, was presiding over both of the cases, and he's not happy about the fact that the combined case has become so complicated. As Scola wrote in his order this week: "Without a hint of irony, the parties now ask the court to mop up a mess they made by holding a hearing to reduce the size and complexity of the case. The court declines the invitation." We'll know in four months or sooner whether or not the companies can clean up after themselves.