In another twist to the long-running legal battle between Motorola Solutions and Hytera, the former has filed a motion to add a claim for copyright infringement to its litigation pending in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Hytera.

A statement from Motorola Solutions says that “The new claim asserts that Hytera has unlawfully copied Motorola Solutions’ source code into the source code used in Hytera products in violation of US copyright laws, which only became known to Motorola Solutions during hearings related to the trade secret litigation.”

The original complaint in this court was lodged by Motorola Solutions back in March 2017 and it asserts that that Hytera’s two-way radios, base stations, repeaters and dispatch systems, as well as its related commercialisation and sales activities, are infringing patents owned by Motorola Solutions and using stolen Motorola Solutions trade secrets.

This new claim from Motorola Solutions asserts that Hytera illegally obtained Motorola Solutions’ source code for its software computer programs – which the claimant describes as among its most confidential and carefully guarded proprietary technology – and copied portions of it verbatim into Hytera’s digital two-way radio products. According to the statement, “Motorola Solutions believes this claim represents clear additional evidence that Hytera’s employees copied Motorola Solutions’ proprietary technologies.”

“In addition to its egregious patent infringement and trade secret theft, it is now clear that Hytera also committed copyright infringement by illegally copying our original source code developed by Motorola Solutions’ world-class engineers,” said Mark Hacker, general counsel and chief administrative officer of Motorola Solutions. “We are confident the District Court will agree that Hytera is a serial infringer and misappropriator of Motorola Solutions’ intellectual property. Motorola Solutions has long been a pioneering leader in technology innovation, as evidenced by the approximately 5,000 patents we have developed. We remain committed to vigorously and fully protecting our intellectual property in the United States and internationally through all available legal remedies.”

In response to this development Hytera issued the following statement:

"...As usual, our competitor used a procedural move for public relations as opposed to making an argument on the merits, issuing to media yet another instalment in its long-running series of press releases about its legal manoeuvres.

"MSI [Motorola Solutions] filed its motion almost a year after its attorneys were granted access to Hytera’s source code and after Hytera filed a summary judgment motion that would end the case. Given the timing of the motion, coming just before an expected decision on Hytera’s motion, this latest act shows desperation, and Hytera will oppose it.

"MSI's motion is especially suspect because it follows on the heels of MSI’s failed attempt to convince the Court to allow it to examine computers at Hytera's offices in China. The Court called this request inappropriate and unnecessary: 'Parties are entitled to a reasonable opportunity to investigate the relevant facts—and no more,' the Court noted, adding, 'While the inquiry should have been uncomplicated, it has become a long, drawn out, pitched battle … to rival the Punic Wars — albeit without the elephants and the Alps and the sheer drama.' At Hytera, we could do without the drama.

"MSI seems to have changed its strategic focus from innovation to litigation. Facing Hytera’s swift growth in technical innovation and market penetration globally, MSI is trying to strangle competition with series of sham litigations. And while the industry and today's LMR users are looking for innovative products, MSI seems to be seeking to distract the market's attention with its orchestrated lawsuits to defame its challengers.

"We at Hytera remain committed to improving our products every year, even if we have to do so while continuing to battle MSI in court."

Two initial decisions have been made recently in Motorola Solutions’ favour against Hytera – both in relation to patent infringement complaints – one made in the Regional Court of Mannheim, Germany, and the other being a notice of initial determination made by administrative law judge Mary Joan McNamara of the US International Trade Commission (ITC). Hytera has said that it will appeal in the former case and that it will ask the ITC to “review and reverse [its] decision”.

Author: Sam Fenwick