Class Action Suit Against Motorola Waiting on Judge’s Decision in Hytera Case
Thursday, November 01, 2018 | Comments

A class action suit against Motorola Solutions is on hold pending a judge’s decision on a motion to transfer in an anticompetitive practices lawsuit Hytera Communications filed against Motorola.

Ramco Communications, a dealer based in Pennsylvania, filed the class action suit, alleging that Motorola has illegally monopolized the U.S. market for LMR solutions. The lawsuit is similar to the anticompetitive practices lawsuit Hytera filed against Motorola in the District Court of New Jersey, accusing Motorola of anticompetitive practices including sham litigation and threatening dealers.

In the Hytera case, District Judge Esther Salas and Magistrate Judge Joseph Dickson, who is assisting Salas with the case, are considering a motion to transfer the case to the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In 2017, Motorola filed patent infringement and theft of trade secrets cases against Hytera in that district court.

Because Hytera’s New Jersey anticompetitive practices case arises out of the “same set of facts and disputes” as the two Illinois cases, Motorola argued that the case should be transferred to Illinois so that all the cases could be more efficiently handled.

Similarly, because Ramco’s class action case is so similar to the Hytera anticompetitive practices case, it should also be transferred to Illinois, a Motorola motion to transfer said.

“And since, Ramco has virtually copied Hytera’s allegations, it would logically follow that Ramco’s action should accompany Hytera’s case to Illinois to make discovery more ‘efficient,’ reduce litigation expenses and decrease the risk of ‘inconsistent’ results,” the brief said.

In oppositions to the motions to transfer, Hytera and Ramco argued that the scope of the anticompetitive practices lawsuits extend far beyond that of the Illinois cases.

Ramco defined the class as any person or entity that purchased LMR solutions from Motorola Solutions or a subsidiary from Dec. 22, 2013, to the present. Ramco argued that members of the class had been damaged because they purchased Motorola products at “artificially maintained, noncompetitive prices, established by MSI’s (Motorola Solutions) actions.”

The class described by the suit is a large variety of entities and individuals spread across the U.S., making the class action suit appropriate, the complaint said. Otherwise, it would be impossible to bring together all the entities impacted by Motorola’s alleged actions.

Many of the allegations in the Ramco suit are similar or identical to the arguments contained in Hytera’s anticompetitive practices lawsuit against Motorola. In the complaint, Ramco accused Motorola of threatening dealers into dropping Hytera product lines or risk losing the ability to sell Motorola products and using its partner program to get dealers to exclusively sell Motorola products.

In multiple court filings, Motorola has argued that it was not threatening dealers for carrying Hytera products but instead trying to protect its intellectual property from unlawful infringement by Hytera. In addition to the Illinois cases, Motorola has also filed suit against Hytera for patent infringement with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), two German courts and the Federal Court of Australia.

Both the Hytera and Ramco lawsuits describe Motorola’s lawsuits as “sham litigation” intended to drive up Hytera’s costs and sow doubt about Hytera’s viability in the U.S. market among dealers.

In its own court filings, Motorola has defended the litigation and said that it is necessary to enforce its intellectual property rights and prevent Hytera from unlawfully infringing its patents. Motorola also defended it partner program as similar to any other rewards program intended to reward repeated business.

Both Ramco and Hytera argued in their lawsuits that Motorola’s alleged practices have foreclosed competition in the LMR market and allowed Motorola to charge much higher prices than competitors while offering the same or less functionality.

In its own legal briefs, Motorola defended its practices and argued that U.S. anticompetitive practices laws are intended to allow companies to compete in a market, not help them compete against competitors in that market.

In an order, Magistrate Judge Joseph Dickson, who is assisting with Salas with both cases, noted that Hytera had amended its complaint in its case and said that because of significant changes to the anticompetitive complaint, the court needed more time to review it and determine how it would affect the Motorola motion to transfer. Because the motion to transfer in the Ramco case “essentially turns” on that other motion to transfer, Dickson put that motion on hold.

Dickson did not offer a timeline for when a decision on any sort of motion to transfer might be made.

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