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Fate of Apple ‘antisuit lawsuit’ against Motorola to be decided in July


By Mikey Campbell

Published: 05:30 PM EST (02:30 PM PST)

A California court on Monday set a hearing date for the next step in Apple’s “antisuit lawsuit” which seeks to protect the company against litigation being leveled by Motorola over patent licensing issues.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of California scheduled the hearing for July 5, on which date Judge Janis Sammartino will begin deliberations as to whether Apple’s suit will proceed or be dismissed, reports FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller.

The Cupertino-based computer giant first filed for declaratory and injunctive relief in February, intending to quash Motorola’s German iPhone 4S injunctions over wireless FRAND patents.

In its suit against Apple, Motorola claims that certain products that use Qualcomm’s MDM6610 baseband chip like the iPhone 4S infringe on patents relating to how mobile devices connect to UMTS and GPRS networks. The claims cover European Patent 1010336 and the equivalent U.S. Patent No. 6,359,898, both of which are owned and licensed by Motorola.

Apple contends that it is a third party beneficiary because Qualcomm licensed the technology from Motorola for itself and its customers. The situation becomes muddled, however, as Motorola essentially attempted to switch licensees by canceling elements of the Qualcomm license and insisting that the iPad maker pay for them instead.

Since the initial filing, Apple has narrowed its complaint after Motorola brought a motion to dismiss the suit in March on claims that the iPhone maker failed to properly state claims that are subject to federal law and jurisdiction concerns between U.S. and German courts.

Motorola ultimately withdrew its motion to dismiss after Apple amended its complaint in early April, promising to “answer, move, or otherwise respond to the First Amended Complaint [...] no later than April 19, 2012.” The company chose to move and brought a second motion to dismiss, though no information can be gleaned from that filing as it is sealed in order to protect confidential patent licensing agreements with Qualcomm.

Mueller notes that it may be difficult to learn anything regarding Motorola’s motion to dismiss other than finding out whether the suit is allowed to proceed as the entire motion has been sealed. The upcoming hearing and related briefs may also receive the same confidential treatment.

Apple has until May 17 to respond, with Motorola able to reply in the week following.

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