The first patent-related court showdown between Apple and Motorola in the US since Google bought Motorola has been scrapped, after a Chicago judge decided neither company could back up the levels of damages they were calling for.
Apple sued Motorola in 2010 over Apple patents allegedly used without a licence in Motorola's Android phones and tablets. Moto had also sued Apple, though, and was after $347m (£225m) in damages.
The suits were early shots in what has become a protracted, broad and costly global war over mobile patents. Both have been whittled down somewhat since they were launched, with Apple now claiming infringement of four patents, and Motorola infringement of one.
Judge Richard Posner said on Thursday that he had "tentatively decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because neither party can establish a right to relief", although he added that he may change his mind.
The trial would have involved a jury, and it was Posner's job to act as 'gatekeeper' for the evidence that jury would have been shown, according to New York patent attorney David Sunshine, quoted by Bloomberg. Sunshine said Posner "must have really had a problem" with the methodology being used to calculate damages demands, as it is unusual for a judge to stop jurors from hearing the case.
The showdown would have been the first since Google closed its $12.5bn purchase of Motorola last month. The buy brought with it several pending lawsuits, along with regulatory investigations into Motorola's use of standards-essential patents in lawsuits — as was the case with the Apple suit.