A U.S. judge has tossed out the Apple v. Motorola patent case for good, according to reports.
Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. District of Northern Illinois said that neither Apple nor Motorola has been able to prove damages and that neither company would be permitted to refile a claim, according to All Things Digital.
"It would be ridiculous to dismiss a suit for failure to prove damages and allow the plaintiff to refile the suit so that he could have a second chance to prove damages. This case is therefore dismissed with prejudice; a separate order to that effect is being entered today," ATD quoted Posner as having said in his ruling.
Earlier this month, Posner canceled Apple's patent infringement jury trial against Google's Motorola Mobility unit, then granted Apple's request for an injunction hearing.
On Wednesday, Posner strongly questioned Apple's bid for an injunction against Motorola smartphones, saying, according to Reuters, that a ban on sales could have "catastrophic effects" and would be "contrary to the public interest."
Apple has been waging a patent war over its iOS mobile operating system and Google's competing Android OS. Motorola sued Apple in 2010, in what some saw as a preemptive strike, but over the course of the legal proceedings, many of Motorola's claims had been tossed out, leaving the company with little ammunition.
The one claim Motorola had left was based on a patent it had agreed to let other companies use in exchange for the covered-technology becoming an industry standard (a so-called frand patent). At the time of his "catastrophic effects" comment to Apple, Posner had also told Motorola's lawyers, according to Reuters, "I don't see how you can have injunction against the use of a standard-essential patent."
While this evening's ruling, and the accompanying evaporation of an Apple injunction against Motorola devices, is a win for Motorola, Posner's decision and his comments during the case seem to go beyond any one company.
During the legal proceedings, the judge also pointed to serious problems with the U.S. patent system and questioned the worth of many software patents, saying, Reuters reported, "You can't just assume that because someone has a patent, he has some deep moral right to exclude everyone else."
Apple declined to comment on this evening's ruling. Motorola sent the following statement:
"We are pleased that Judge Posner formally dismissed the case against Motorola Mobility. Apple's litigation campaign began with their attempt to assert 15 patents against us. As it relates to Apple's violation of our patents, we will continue our efforts to defend our own innovation."
Update, June 23, 11:50 a.m. PT: Adds statement from Motorola.