German court gives Microsoft and Samsung more time
In other lawsuits in the US, Oracle accused of "the height of ridiculousness" in pursuing damages claims against Google
Published: 14 May, 2012
A flurry of rulings in wireless patent cases delivered no decisive results last week, with Microsoft and Samsung both gaining more time in key trials.
A regional court in Mannheim, Germany postponed two rulings Friday, in a case brought by Motorola Mobility against Microsoft, and another by Apple against Samsung. The judge said the court needed more time to examine documents relating to the email patent cited by Motorola - after that, the case could be resolved based on written submissions by the parties, or it could come to trial again. Motorola asserted the same patent, which relates to two-way communications, against Apple in the same court earlier this year and won its case.
In a separate move, the same court adjourned one of the many Apple-Samsung cases, this one concerning a patent related to 'pinch-to-zoom' gestures on a touchscreen. The court said the patent's validity first needed to be confirmed by Germany's Federal Patent Court, a delay welcomed by Samsung, which faces a possible injunction against its Galaxy smartphones.
Many of the wave of mobile IPR lawsuits have been filed in Germany, where legal processes for patent cases are relatively quick and inexpensive, and also because the country is Europe's largest economy and a major smartphone base.
Across the pond, another important wireless case, that brought against Google by Oracle, continues to twist and turn. The court is currently hearing the second phase of the case, which relates to patent infringement, while the firms continue to haggle over the first phase, in which Google was ruled to have violated copyright on about nine lines of Java code when it created Android. However, the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether it had made fair use of that code, and the judge could still decide to rule that APIs are not copyrightable at all.
All that will affect the final stage of the proceedings, the setting of any damages for which Google may be liable. The judge, William Alsup, warned on Thursday that the most Oracle would probably be able to claim would be about $150,000 in statutory damages, but Oracle has turned down that sum and instead is going to try to pursue a higher settlement. This flies in the face of Alsup's advice, a decision the judge described as the "height of ridiculousness".
Oracle's lead attorney Michael Jacobs said the database giant would not elect for statutory damages on the copyright claims but would instead pursue an 'infringer's profit' case. Despite his criticisms of the idea, Alsup ruled on Friday that Oracle could go ahead with that action, though he had claimed it was ridiculous to imagine that a firm could get "hundreds of millions" of dollars for nine lines of code. "The law can't operate that way," he said. "In my mind, you're making a mistake."
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