Intellectual Ventures Wins Round in Google Patent Fight
With a trial date nearing, Intellectual Ventures has cleared a major hurdle in a smartphone patent case it brought against Google Inc. subsidiary Motorola Mobility Inc.
In a 71-page decision issued on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware mostly denied a motion for summary judgment filed by Motorola's lawyers at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton and Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell. Robinson tossed one of the six patents IV is asserting, but ultimately allowed the other five to go to a jury. A trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 21.
At issue in the case are smartphone patents that IV acquired on the secondary market. IV alleges that the patents are being infringed by several Motorola-branded mobile devices that run on Google's Android operating system, including the Electrify, Photon, Titanium, and Atrix. Other Android phone-makers like Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp have agreed to license the same IV patents. IV's CEO has stated publicly that the company held unsuccessful licensing talks with Motorola prior to bringing suit.
IV's lawyers at Feinberg Day Alberti & Thompson and Farnan LLP brought the case in October 2011. At the time, Google had already offered to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion, but the deal hadn't yet closed.
Foss Patents blogger Florian Mueller pointed out at the time that Google has invested money in IV. "Google's failure to protect its licensees against the very NPEs it finances is both inexcusable and irresponsible," Mueller wrote.
In its motion for summary judgment, Motorola argued that any reasonable juror would conclude that Motorola's own patents render some of the patents at issue invalid on obviousness grounds. Robinson disagreed, wiring that IV's arguments were solid enough to survive summary judgment.
Motorola's lawyers did succeed in knocking out one IV patent on a backlighting system.
IV brought a similar case against Motorola in June 2013. That case is pending before U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Google responded to that complaint by calling IV a "patent troll."
Feinberg Day partner Elizabeth Day declined to comment.
Kilpatrick partner William Boice was not immediately available for comment.