Some very interesting legal news surfaced this morning in regard to a Motorola patent suit against Apple at the ITC. The lawsuit in question was filed back in August, and sought import bans on almost every Apple product currently manufactured based on seven Motorola patents. It had barely entered the preliminary stages before Motorola voluntarily sought for the case to be dismissed today.
Motorola provided no reasoning for the request, which is basically a matter of procedure - it will be granted. This suit had at play IP that may have been "second tier" in terms of legal firepower, but the actions Motorola asked of the ITC because of Apple's alleged infringement were certainly nothing to scoff at.
So, why has Motorola asked for such a dismissal? It's extremely difficult to say. It's entirely possible that there has been some sort of procedural snafu that Moto's counsel only recently became aware of, requiring a complete re-filing of the case at a later date. This can happen with complex lawsuits - someone can't find the appropriate documents after weeks of feverishly digging through musty banker boxes in some dank warehouse. Or there was a serious strategic misstep in assessing the strength of Motorola's patents. It really is impossible to know at this point.
The other obvious possibility that by now is of elephant-in-the-room proportions in your mind is settlement. Have Google and Apple negotiated a ceasefire? That may be a little too optimistic, given that if such a deal happened, Motorola would be required to disclose that in its filing. Now, it's certainly feasible that, in some high-level, closed door talks, there were suggestions that if a certain company were to drop a certain lawsuit, perhaps, as a gesture of good faith, more substantive dialogue could be opened. I wouldn't for a moment discount such a scenario as within the realm of reason.
But, I also know that lawsuits are complex machinations, not just of filings and documents, but venue choice, timing, and other strategic elements. It's clear that, for some reason, Motorola or its counsel had a change of heart. It's just not clear why.