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Intellectual Ventures patent suit against Google ends in mistrial

Federal judge's decision comes after the jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether Motorola Mobility infringed on the patent-holding company's portfolio.

A federal judge in Delaware declared a mistrial Wednesday in a patent lawsuit between Google's Motorola Mobility and Intellectual Ventures, according to a statement from the patent-holding company.

US District Judge Sue Robinson issued the decision after jurors were unable to unanimously agree on a verdict, according to a statement by Intellectual Ventures chief litigation counsel Melissa Finocchio.

"Mistrials are an occasional fact of life, and it is disappointing (for us, and probably also for Motorola) that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. But we are looking ahead to the retrial on these patents and also to our two other upcoming trials with Motorola Mobility Inc. later this year," Finocchio said in a statement.

In a statement sent to CNET, a Motorola Mobility spokesman said: "We continue to believe this lawsuit was based on overbroad patent claims meant to tax innovation."

The pair has been locked in a long-running and bitter battle over three Intellectual Ventures patents related to smartphone technology that it claims Motorola infringed. Motorola has argued that the asserted patents are invalid and that Intellectual Ventures is simply using its portfolio to sue companies for large settlements.

Intellectual Ventures sued Motorola Mobility in October 2011, claiming that Motorola violated Intellectual Ventures' patents related to a range of technologies, including one for a "file transfer system," and another that relates to "illumination device and image projection apparatus comprising the device." The case went to trial in January.

Intellectual Ventures, a patent holder co-founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, has become a lightning rod of controversy and debate in the technology industry. The Bellevue, Wash., company has built up a massive trove of patents and has taken aim at a slew of firms that it claims violate its technologies. It has even targeted Capital One, Bank of America, and other banks.

Critics say Intellectual Ventures' tactics make it a "patent troll" that wants nothing more than to profit off the innovations of others. Meanwhile, Intellectual Ventures counters that it's simply protecting its intellectual property.

Update, 5:40 p.m. PT with Motorola Mobility comment.