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Apple Drops Claim That Motorola Mobility Infringed a Patent

Apple Inc. dropped a claim that Motorola Mobility Inc. infringed one of its five patents at issue in a federal lawsuit in Chicago, while reserving its rights to revive the case after appealing a pre-trial ruling.

Apple’s move, disclosed in a court filing today, leaves in play four of its patents and three Motorola Mobility patents as the smartphone makers move toward a series of trials before U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner.

“There will be four trials, all in quick succession,” said Posner -- who typically presides over appellate cases -- in a scheduling order issued yesterday. The trials will address each company’s liability claims then, if necessary, equitable issues and damages. The first trial will start on June 11, he said in a Feb. 29 order.

The Chicago case is one of many in the U.S. and elsewhere pitting the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker against Motorola, which produces phones that use Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, is working to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. That company, based in Libertyville, Illinois, was spun off from Motorola Solutions Inc. last year.

Related Counterclaim

Apple agreed to a judgment in Motorola’s favor on its claims involving a patent for what Posner described in a March 19 ruling as “a centralized method for alerting components in a computer of developments (‘events’) elsewhere in the system.”

In their joint filing today, the companies requested entry of a judgment of non-infringement based on that March 19 ruling. Motorola agreed to drop a related counterclaim.

“This joint motion is made subject to Apple’s reservation of all rights to appeal the court’s claim constructions,” or how Posner interpreted the patent’s parameters, the companies said in the joint submission. They also agreed Motorola can resurrect its counterclaims and defense if Apple’s infringement claim is revived.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Motorola Inc., 11-cv-08540, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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