Apple To Hold Off On Motorola Lawsuits Until Google Acquisition Finalized

Last Friday, Apple filed a motion to hold off two of their lawsuits with Motorola Mobility until Google’s acquisition of Motorola is finalized.  Apple stated that MMI currently lacks standing since the Google acquisition is still pending.  According to Apple, MMI lost their rights to their patents when they agreed on the merger with Google and that if the case goes on trial and Apple wins, Google would likely file a counter lawsuit thus the need to repeat the whole process.  Also, as MMI is pending to be a part of Google, they cannot sue for infringement lawsuits without the consent of Google and Apple does not want to waste their resources settling a lawsuit filed by someone with no standing.

Apple based their claims on the publicly-filed Merger Agreement between MMI and Google.

“To further its pending acquisition by Google, Motorola has surrendered critical rights in the patents-in-suit, such that Motorola no longer has prudential standing to pursue this action. According to the publicly-filed Merger Agreement, Motorola has ceded control of the most basic rights regarding the patents-in-suit. Absent Google’s consent, Motorola cannot: (1) sue for infringement of its patents in any new action; (2) settle pending litigation (including this case) that would require a license to any of its patents; (3) license or sublicense its patents except in limited circumstances relating to the sale of Motorola’s products; (4) assign its rights in its patents; and/or (5) grant a covenant not to sue for infringement of its patents.”

Apple states that Google’s acquisition of MMI is “one of the most significant transactions in the technology industry” as MMI patents will “protect” Android.  Since the merger hasn’t been finalized, Google can’t actually tell MMI what to do in their current case with Apple.  Also, Apple stated that Google cannot join MMI in the lawsuit to help them win as Google has no right over MMI patents.

“Google itself lacks standing under Article III of the Constitution to enforce the patents-in-suit. Google has no ownership interest in the patents. Google has no right to license, assign, or encumber the patents, and no right even to practice the patents, much less an exclusive right. Accordingly, Google is not injured if another party infringes the patents. Google only has the right to veto actions taken by Motorola with respect to the patents. On these facts, Google lacks constitutional standing to enforce the patents-in-suit and cannot be joined as a party to this action due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

The Google-Motorola merger is set to close late this year or early 2012 or mid 2012 or never?  Since the deal is still being reviewed, it could possibly face obstacles such as the AT&T-T-Mobile merger is being blocked.