back to article Judge scolds Apple, Motorola for using court as 'business strategy'

The judge responsible for the painfully complex patent litigation between Apple and Motorola Mobility has had it up to here with the legal machinations of the two companies, and has denied a request to step in and whittle the case down to a manageable size. "Most parties that come before the Court are trying to resolve their …

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Alert

Is it snowing in hell?

Did I just slip into an alternate universe?!

The courts are getting fed up with lawsuits as a business strategy? (I could barely type those words as it all seems so surreal)

What's next? World peace? Fair wages? Jobs for everyone? (oops, I think I went too far)

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Jobs for everyone?

I think that was the business strategy of the previous CEO of Apple :)

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FAIL

Re: Is it snowing in hell?

>The courts are getting fed up with lawsuits as a business strategy? (I could barely type those words as it all seems so surreal

Yes the courts are getting clogged up and increased caseload for judges unlike lawyers doesn't increase their income. Pretty much anybody that doesn't get paid with billable legal hours sees how ludicrous the whole system is but the problem is most of the people who make the laws either do, did or may well in the future get paid for billable hours or have buddies that do.

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IT Angle

Re: Is it snowing in hell?

Hello, I did up vote you, but I still like to repeat "they instead are using this and similar litigation worldwide as a business strategy that appears to have no end. That is not a proper use of this court".

PS. if it snows in hell it is probably raining. I am not sure about the IT angle here, though.

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Re: Is it snowing in hell? - the IT angle

if it snows in hell it is probably raining.

The IT angle: w/ enough rain and brimstone fire you get a nice cloud, albeit sulfur one... but cloud.

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Re: Is it snowing in hell?

I don't think courts have ever liked this sort of mucking about; look at the Woolf reforms here in the UK for evidence that, when acting as a body, legal professionals like the rules to be clear, costs to be proportional to the dispute, reasonable parties to be rewarded and, ideally, people not to have to go to court in the first place — whether due to alternative dispute resolution or as a result of summary judgment.

The problem is partly that even in countries modelled on the English system court-made law is long out of fashion in deference to elected legislators (as they've more of a mandate), but probably more that we've waded into uncharted waters. These sorts of action are broadly unprecedented and the law has yet to figure out how to deal with these things equitably.

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Re: Is it snowing in hell?

"... but in the present case ... the parties' obstreperous and cantankerous conduct ... makes it plain that the parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute."

Wonderful. That's about as rude and insulting as you can get in a written document. What he's really saying is "You two have demonstrated that you have no fucking intention of sorting this out like sensible human beings".

Hopefully, the senior management of Motorola and Apple will feel so embarrassed by this that they'll actually go and knock a few heads together to do something about it. But it that happens, I really WILL start to believe we're living in a parallel universe.

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Joke

Re: w/ enough rain and brimstone fire you get a nice cloud

But is it an "always on" cloud?

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A lack of federal judges too

The GOP has been preventing Obama from filling any vacancies hoping they can then fill them ALL in 2017.

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Re: A lack of federal judges too

Both parties will now do this so its only going to get worse too.

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Trollface

Re: A lack of federal judges too

Cos the Dems have never tried that sort of tactic, have they?

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My word.

A judge who actually uses common sense!

Excuse me, but I need to keep my eye on the window. The pigs will be flying by at anytime now.

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Where "justice" costs money...

Who'd have thunk that people with the Most Money use the Courts to enbiggen themselves?

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In the UK

Such abuse of the Courts is called Champerty & Maintenance and is viewed very dimly by the Courts.

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Re: In the UK

Yeah our legal system is pretty much crap with the whole innocent until broke thing and the truth mattering a lot less than who has more money. I liked in Germany how they have a jury of judges who know the law instead of clueless peers. A jury of the general public means you are virtually guaranteed to get several regular TMZ (for UK readers think the Sun) viewers. Still I do like a handful of US laws that the UK doesn't have like the fair use provision of copyright.

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Re: In the UK

Jury selection is a specialty unto itself. Both sides bring in consultants and attempt to pick supporters for their side or invalidate the other sides choices. It is very, very screwed up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In the UK

@asdf: this is civil law, there is no presumption of innocence, and the level of proof required is substantially lower, sitting at the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt.

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Re: In the UK

>this is civil law, there is no presumption of innocence,

Yes yes I know but our justice system has nothing to do with justice criminal or civil. Just easier to discuss the one most I know the most about, jk.

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Meh

From gavel to gavel.

From reading articles here alone, this appears to becoming a universal concern amongst judges. This isn't the first judge to realize this, but how many more will it take is the question. You would think it would revolve around each parties finances for litigation, but these companies have the money to go for a life time, so something is going to have to give.

+1 to the judge for adding yet another voice to the cause for concern.

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Anonymous Coward

Not a proper use of this court...

the penny's dropped, somewhat late

One correction though, it's not a business strategy, it's simply about which boy has a longer willy and which of them can piss further.

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Re: Not a proper use of this court...

I wouldn't say the penny has dropped. This is a warning from the judge, not a hammer dropping. If he was really uber convinced they were intractably linked in a corporate strategy he would dismiss their suite with prejudice. Then NONE of the issues could be litigated in his or any other court. THAT would be dropping the penny.

OK, it would be dropping a howitzer on them, but it would get corporations attention.

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Perhaps...

...if enough Judges get tired of these lawsuits based on half-baked patents, then the USPTO will get a "please explain" letter from the Judicial system.

I can dream, can't I...?

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Flame

".....lawsuits as a business strategy...."

It is refreshing to hear a Judge sum up the problem in a nutshell. It is precisely because we have the industry following these tactics as well as the patent trolls (who after all do not have any alternative strategy) that patent law and enforcement has been brought into serious disrepute. The fact of the matter is that most, perhaps all, of the major powers in the industry behave like patent trolls whenever they feel it suits them - that is the problem we have to tackle. When companies which are genuine producers also behave in this fashion then the situation becomes intolerable.

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The judge should...

postpone the next court date to a point faaaaaaaar in the future to give everybody involved some time to innovate, evolve their business, develop new products, burn their platforms, etc. This might be a general solution to this type of patent litigation, just make sure none of the managers will ever get (or loose) a bonus due to performed (missed) litigation during his tenure.

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How to sort patents and trolls out easily

Do you have a patent that is actually used in a product? You are allowed to sue for damages. Pay your own costs.

Do you have a patent that isn't used in a product? You can only take them to court to stop them using it, no damages or costs awarded.

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Re: How to sort patents and trolls out easily

A possible alternative:-

Do you have a patent that isn't used in a product? You have one year to either produce a working product using it, or to sell it to someone who WILL use it in a product. Otherwise, it becomes public ownership.

Gets rid of patent trolls, and encourages use of new ideas. Is there a downside?

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Re: Is there a downside?

And the big boys know they only have to keep you hanging on with promises about how we'll definitely pay you and put it into production next week for a year, and then they can rip your work off and pay you nothing...

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Re: How to sort patents and trolls out easily

Do you have a patent that isn't used in a product? You have one year to either produce a working product using it, or to sell it to someone who WILL use it in a product.

"WILL use it" when? Does the clock start again when the sale of the patent is complete? And at what point is it considered used in a product?

In any case, one year is far too short an interval for many patented inventions to be incorporated into a product, unless the definition of "product" is extremely generous.

Otherwise, it becomes public ownership.

Gets rid of patent trolls, and encourages use of new ideas. Is there a downside?

The downside is that it does not get rid of patent trolls, and does not encourage the use of new ideas.

It doesn't get rid of trolls because either they can keep passing the patents around, restarting the clock; or if the clock doesn't restart, they can pay someone to develop a prototype "product" which they then sit on until they can use the patent for licensing. To prevent the latter behavior the regulation on what constitutes a "product" sufficient to defend patent ownership will become far more of a byzantine horror than the current system.

It discourages the use of new ideas because it strips patents of their investment value, which means inventors without the means or motive to develop products - individuals, research laboratories, universities - no longer have a way to profit from their work, and potential practicing entities can't use their IP as collateral for attracting investment.

Every single time the Reg runs a story about patents, half a dozen commentators have to propose their brilliant schemes for reforming the system. And they always suffer from these flaws. The Reg readership has a very short memory, apparently.

The patent systems in the US and other countries are clearly severely flawed. Proposals that fit on a t-shirt are not going to fix them, however.

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You're on to something, Eradicate, but I think preventing people using the patented concept is still too much power. I prefer Martin's elaboration: use it or lose it. All 'IP' law should work that way. If nothing else, it would eliminate the 'copyright limbo' that now imprisons so many creative works.

Still wouldn't stop Apple from patenting the rectangle, though. That needs real reform in the patent process.

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The USA has missed a trick

If they have a separate trademark office and patent office, they can employ more officials and charge handling fee twice.

Would separating the brand from the inventions help?

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Trollface

How about this... patents can only be owned by one original inventor, who must be a human being and not a corporation. They are prohibited from sale, only licensing is allowed.

I'll go get back under me bridge...

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