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Judge Attacks Patent Claims in Apple Case, Cancels Trial

By - Source: GigaOm | B 38 comments

There is growing evidence that the judicial system may be close to the end of its tether with frivolous and silly patent infringement lawsuits.

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner said that he had tentatively decided to throw patent infringement allegations between Apple and Motorola out of court, since neither party could prove that they were harmed by the actions of the other.

Posner simply canceled a trial that was scheduled to begin next Monday because of this circumstance and said that his initial ruling from June 7 will be followed by a more elaborate ruling within a week. However, the judge kept the door for a trial open by stating that he is working on a full opinion and that he may change his mind. Given the strong language in this initial ruling, however, it seems rather likely that this will happen. Common sense rarely visits patent litigation proceedings these days, but this ruling surely is a breath of fresh air and hope for a patent system that could use additional consideration to prevent the exploits that have been flooding it.

Posner was even more expressive in a post on his personal blog, calling the patent system dysfunctional. In an article that discusses the state and needs of capitalism, he argues that "our capitalist system needs a lot of work to achieve proper capitalist goals." Among the current shortcomings, he mentioned "a huge public debt, dangerously neglected infrastructure, a greatly overextended system of criminal punishment, a seeming inability to come to grips with grave environmental problems such as global warming, a very costly but inadequate educational system, unsound immigration policies, an embarrassing obesity epidemic, an excessively costly health care system, a possible rise in structural unemployment, fiscal crises in state and local governments, a screwed-up tax system, a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions."

Previously, Posner used rather simple, but effective language to call out exaggerated claims in patent infringements and appears to be focusing on actual harm being done. GigaOm quoted him saying during an Apple trial "Apple's .. argument is that 'a tap is a zero-length swipe.' That's silly. It's like saying that a point is a zero-length line." He attacked Motorola by stating that "Motorola's contention that the term has a 'plain and ordinary meaning' is ridiculous; Motorola seems to have forgotten that this is a jury trial." If Posner's argument can spark a trend, there may be hope that patent trolls building a business from buying old patents and claiming damage soon after acquiring them may see their opportunity to extort license fees dwindle.

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    lashabane , June 13, 2012 11:20 PM
    Right on!

    Where's this guy been hiding?
  • 27 Hide
    Pawessum16 , June 13, 2012 11:30 PM
    I like this judge =)
  • 27 Hide
    K2N hater , June 13, 2012 11:25 PM
    Mr. Richard Posner proves not all men have a price.
Other Comments
  • 29 Hide
    lashabane , June 13, 2012 11:20 PM
    Right on!

    Where's this guy been hiding?
  • 25 Hide
    pjmelect , June 13, 2012 11:22 PM
    Good for him.
  • 27 Hide
    K2N hater , June 13, 2012 11:25 PM
    Mr. Richard Posner proves not all men have a price.
  • 27 Hide
    Pawessum16 , June 13, 2012 11:30 PM
    I like this judge =)
  • 16 Hide
    Pailin , June 13, 2012 11:48 PM
    :) 

    I somehow relaxed a little reading that
  • 20 Hide
    livebriand , June 13, 2012 11:49 PM
    Wait, a guy in the legal system who actually has common sense? Am I reading this right?
  • 22 Hide
    neoverdugo , June 13, 2012 11:54 PM
    Finally! A judge with brains and common sense! If he ever runs to lead from the oval office one day I'll vote for him.
  • 20 Hide
    bustapr , June 13, 2012 11:56 PM
    tap is a 0 length swipe?! thats like saying standing is a 0 length jump...

    this is all sorts of wrong
  • 20 Hide
    sykozis , June 13, 2012 11:57 PM
    FINALLY!!!!

    How is it a judge can point out EVERY problem in a single statement, yet the idiots we elect to office and allow to run this country can't even seem to figure out that they are ALL directly responsible for the condition this country is in? We need some people like this judge running the government.

    Step One to fixing the patent system. Void ALL "proof of concept" patents and require companies to actually develop the technology they're trying to patent....then prove it actually works exactly as described.
    Step Two: If the patent is awarded, require the company to license the patent for reasonable terms and void the patent if they refuse. No more selling patents. If you didn't develop it, you don't get a patent for it. If the patent is sold, it's immediately VOID.
    Step Three: Remediation. If the patent holder and potential licensee (in cases of patent infringement) can't come to reasonable terms for licensing....either void the patent (if patent holder is at fault) or ban the sale of infringing products (if potential licensee is at fault).

    That would fix most of the issues with the patent system and stop all these BS patent suits.

    If you didn't develop the tech or a product that uses it....there are no damages from someone else infringing the patent and judges should be throwing out suits from these companies that buy patents. They don't develop anything thus there's no damages involved.
  • 7 Hide
    DRosencraft , June 14, 2012 12:12 AM
    This is what I've been waiting for and telling people. Is the patent process flawed? Perhaps, but it's not because it has itself changed dramatically. The problem is that too many people are lawsuit happy, and too many judges are afraid to do what this one did. Yes, you can file a lawsuit for any reason about anything, but the courts don't have to sit through endless B.S.
  • 6 Hide
    darkavenger123 , June 14, 2012 1:39 AM
    Best Judge Ever. Please give him a gun and award to him the rank of Judge Dredd and let him shoot patent trolls who's wasting taxpayer's money as he see fits. Bravo!
  • -7 Hide
    darkavenger123 , June 14, 2012 1:40 AM
    A tap is a zero length swipe....can i say a pussy is a zero length dick???
  • 9 Hide
    A Bad Day , June 14, 2012 1:45 AM
    "Among the current shortcomings, he mentioned "a huge public debt, dangerously neglected infrastructure, a greatly overextended system of criminal punishment, a seeming inability to come to grips with grave environmental problems such as global warming, a very costly but inadequate educational system, unsound immigration policies, an embarrassing obesity epidemic, an excessively costly health care system, a possible rise in structural unemployment, fiscal crises in state and local governments, a screwed-up tax system, a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions."

    If he ran for office, I would be more than willing to help him campaign.
  • 10 Hide
    voodoobunny , June 14, 2012 2:16 AM
    There seem to have been a lot of "Judge Richard Posner exercises common sense in case, savages participants" stories recently. Plus I read an article recently about how he writes all his own opinions when he rules (where a lot of judges delegate the opinion part to their law clerks). He's setting a good standard for the judiciary.

    Can we promote this guy to the Supreme Court pronto?
  • 7 Hide
    voodoobunny , June 14, 2012 2:17 AM
    A Bad DayIf he ran for office, I would be more than willing to help him campaign.


    Amen to that.
  • 9 Hide
    snipersas151 , June 14, 2012 2:26 AM
    I'm surprised no one on here has ever heard of Richard Posner. He's currently the most cited judge alive, and a pretty obvious supreme court pick. He was never promoted to the court because his libertarian views made him simultaneously too liberal for republicans and conservative for democrats.

    Supposedly he took this case (which is actually heard in a court below his regular docket) because he wanted to solve the patent mess once and for all. Given how well respected he is in legal circles, it'll be interesting to see if he can manage.
  • 5 Hide
    vittau , June 14, 2012 2:54 AM
    "X is a zero-length Y" has that special potential to become an Internet meme.
  • -2 Hide
    Darkk , June 14, 2012 3:11 AM
    voodoobunnyAmen to that.


    Amen to that as well!!
  • 10 Hide
    southernshark , June 14, 2012 3:12 AM
    Posner on Contracts....

    Just about every law student reads this.

    This is bad for Apple because attacking Posner will be interpreted by the bench as an attack on the credibility of the legal system.

    Anyway Yeah for Posner.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 14, 2012 6:29 AM
    Richard Posner for President!!!
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