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Florida judge unhappy with wireless companies' strategies

Business owners often sue competitors for claims related to unfair competition. Restaurants argue that other establishments duplicate décor and menus. Sales companies complain that competing firms steal employees or customer lists. Luxury clothing designers worry that customers might confuse cheap knock-offs with the real thing. Musicians accuse singers of taking their lyrics. The same holds true for wireless device firms Apple, Inc. and Google, Inc. The two behemoths have been locked in Florida litigation since 2010; they accuse each other of improperly copying aspects of the other's wireless gadgets.

Recently, a Florida judge angrily accused Apple, Inc. and Google, Inc. of using business litigation as a strategy when they should instead be faithfully attempting to solve their disagreements. Instead of entering into negotiations or arbitration to resolve portions of the dispute, the parties have been adding claims. The judge used strong language to advise the parties that he did not find their conduct acceptable, and he especially was not interested in using court time to simplify the overwhelmingly large case. Indeed, the litigation has become so complicated that it contains 180 separate patent-related claims filed by the two companies.

The judge overseeing this litigation is clear that his courtroom is not a place for showmanship or games. Instead, it appears that he wants to efficiently resolve true business disputes so that companies can operate on a level playing field. Business owners who are faced with unfair competition in the marketplace from a competitor may want to discuss their situation with experienced legal counsel to learn of potential rights and remedies in court.

Source: Bloomberg, "Apple, Google Not Interested in Settlement, Judge Says," Susan Decker, April 10, 2013

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