This is an update to our pending case against Apple in the Northern District of California.
Yesterday afternoon Judge Chhabria granted Apple’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement on 3 out of 4 patents (the ‘446 patent, the ‘831 patent and the ‘260 patent). We are currently reviewing the Judge’s orders and exploring all options available to us, including appealing them to the Federal Circuit. A link to the order can be found here (Summary Judgment Order).
Additionally, with respect to the remaining patent (the ‘092 patent), Judge Chhabria granted summary judgment for Apple with respect to “inducement” liability, concluding that Apple is not liable for infringement by its customers (i.e. users of iPhones). This is a damaging ruling for Unwired Planet because the ‘092 patents contains method claims that are practiced by the mobile phone when the user performs the method. Unwired Planet’s direct infringement case remains, but because the damages would be de minimus, a trial is not warranted unless and until a successful appeal regarding inducement occurs.
Unwired Planet and Apple have filed a joint stipulation seeking to dismiss the direct infringement claims of the ‘092 unless and until such time as the appellate court remands the indirect infringement case back to the district court. As a result, the trial scheduled to begin on June 3 (jury selection) will not take place and a final judgment of noninfringement is expected to be ordered shortly.
Commentary: We believe these results further exemplify the current uncertain and adverse climate in the U.S. that we perceive exists regarding patent holders’ rights, particularly with respect to narrowing (or even eliminating altogether) the scope of protection for these types of application-layer patents. At some point, we believe the pendulum will ultimately swing back in favor of a strong patent system for many important systemic, national policy reasons. In the meanwhile, this result underscores one of the reasons why we moved our primary enforcement focus to Europe in the beginning of 2014.