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Judge scolds Apple over 'frivolous' lawsuit filings

The judge presiding over a patent infringement case between Apple and Motorola recently lashed out at the iPhone maker over what he sees as frivolous filings.

Apple has managed to tick off the judge hearing a case between it and Motorola.

Judge Richard Posner of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will preside over a patent lawsuit between Apple and Motorola due to hit the courts in June. But the judge last week chided Apple for filing "frivolous" motions, according to Foss Patents' Florian Mueller.

"I deny the second half of Apple's motion (seeking prohibition of the deposition) as frivolous and the first half (seeking substitution) as untimely. I've had my fill of frivolous filings by Apple," Judge Posner said. "The next such motion, and I shall forbid it to file any motions without first moving for leave to file."

The judge's stern warning refers to a motion brought by Apple seeking to prevent Motorola from deposing a certain expert. Despite being denied a motion to exclude the same expert a few days prior, Apple filed the same claim, citing health problems of the expert's wife. But the judge didn't buy it, saying that "Apple is now attempting to use the medical problem of [the expert's] wife to block the deposition."

As such, Judge Posner was not only upset that Apple tried the same tactic twice but clearly felt the company was using its filing as a pretext, according to Mueller. The judge also was apparently concerned about such frivolous motions slowing down the case as it wends its way to trial.

Apple hasn't been the only subject of Judge Posner's ire. The judge has lashed out at Motorola, criticizing and ridiculing the company's claim constructions, which attempt to translate complex patent claims into clearer English. But Apple has also been scolded by another judge, who in January cited the company for making a "disingenuous" argument.

Will these legal gaffes hurt Apple in the courtroom? They certainly don't help, but Mueller expects a fair and impartial trial.

"It's not in Apple's interest to have judges look at every one of its motions with huge skepticism." Mueller explained. "That said, there's no question that Judge Posner will give Apple a fair chance going forward."

Apple and Motorola have been mired in a series of patent lawsuits against each other. Motorola's initial suits have claimed that Apple infringed several of its wireless and smartphone technologies. Apple's countersuits have alleged that Motorola has violated some of its own key patents.