At yesterday's hearing on the patent suits between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) unit Motorola Mobility and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Judge Richard Posner seemed prepared to give Apple an injunction ordering royalties against Google unit Motorola's use of four Apple patents.
But when Apple's attorneys objected to that possible conclusion, saying they would just sue again in three months, he tipped is hand:
"That's all we need is new actions, new suits, because there's not enough litigation worldwide between Apple and Android."
In other words, Posner wants these patent wars ended, but Apple seems unwilling to accept the possible victory he's offering, in the form of money. As a legal scholar Posner objects to the use of courtrooms as just-another venue for business warfare, especially given the growing backlogs in all types of cases, but the ultimate solution - an injunction against the sale of Android phones in the U.S. market - is equally anathema to him. He called such an outcome "catastrophic" to consumers and described the U.S. patent system as "chaos."
An order enforcing damages would also face another hurdle, Posner's own recent ruling that neither side had proven a claim for them. Which means Motorola's efforts to enforce patents subject to Fair, Reasonable And Non Discriminatory or FRAND terms will also fall.
The best guess is thus that Posner will throw out the whole case, with as much prejudice as he can muster, writing a paper calling a pox on all houses in the patent wars, and perhaps even suggesting some changes to the law that the Congress will then dutifully ignore.
This result would be bullish for Google as it faces another tough case involving Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) patents. There its effort to strike an agreement ending the litigation was rejected yesterday in the court of another conservative jurist, James Robart, who will without doubt read Posner's decision with great care.