Apple 2.0

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Judge tentatively pulls the plug on Apple v. Motorola

June 7, 2012: 4:16 PM ET

Having whittled the case down to the nub, Richard Posner tossed out the rest

Judge Posner

FORTUNE -- First he characterized a Motorola claim as "ridiculous." Then he called one of Apple's (AAPL) "frivolous" and "untimely," warning Cupertino's lawyers that he'd had his fill of such things. Later he told both sides to rewrite their briefs in language a layperson could understand, and forbade Apple from trying to turn the case into a "popularity contest."

Finally, it seems, he had heard enough. On Thursday, Judge Richard A. Posner, a jurist famous for cutting through thickets of legalese to the nub of an issue, took one of the mobile phone industry's most closely watched patent trials -- Apple v. Motorola -- and basically tossed it out of his courtroom.

According to a brief Bloomberg report -- really just a headline -- he rejected the damage arguments put forward by both sides and dismissed the case two days before it was scheduled to start.

But according to a source in contact with Apple's lawyers, Judge Posner has given them one last chance. Apple argued that there ought at least to be a formal hearing on their request for injunctive relief, and the judge has agreed to consider their request.

There will be no jury trial, but if the judge buys Apple's argument, the hearing would begin on Monday.

UPDATE: In a two-page order issued Thursday night Judge Posner wrote: "I have tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief. I may change my mind."

He added that he would delay entering final judgment until he writes a lengthier decision

For more detail, see FOSS Patents here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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