Judge Denies Hytera Motion to Dismiss Motorola Copyright Infringement Claim
Thursday, August 01, 2019 | Comments

A U.S. district judge denied a Hytera Communications motion to dismiss a copyright infringement claim filed against it by Motorola Solutions in an ongoing legal dispute.

Motorola first sued Hytera in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2017, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets under both the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Illinois Trade Secret Act. Motorola later amended its complaint to add a claim of copyright infringement to the case.

At that time, Motorola said it became aware of Hytera computers that had large portions of Motorola’s proprietary source code on them. The original lawsuit alleges that several former Motorola Solutions employees went to work for Hytera and took proprietary information, which was then used in Hytera’s Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) products.

Hytera asked District Judge Charles Norgle to dismiss the copyright infringement claim, arguing that Motorola had not met the standards for bringing such a claim to the court. Specifically, Hytera argued that Motorola had not sufficiently identified the parts of Motorola’s DMR source code that it alleged Hytera copied and Motorola did not show that the portion of Motorola’s source code it says Hytera copied is entitled to copyright protection.

Norgle rejected both arguments, ruling that Motorola had met the minimum requirements for bringing the claim and saying that more concrete details would be covered during discovery and the trial itself.

Hytera argued that Motorola did not identify specific Hytera products that contained its source code or which parts of source code was included. Norgle ruled that Motorola only had to show that it was plausible Hytera had access to the source code and that the code was used in Hytera products.

“Thus, Motorola need not prove its case at this juncture by specifically alleging the exact lines of code that Hytera copied from the DMR program or the exact products in which Hytera implemented the copied code,” Norgle wrote. “Rather, such factual details may be uncovered through discovery and addressed at the summary judgment or trial.”

Hytera also argued that the proof of copyright Motorola provided to the court included a notice that some portions of the code were excluded from copyright protection. Norgle again ruled that Motorola did not need to prove specifics at this point in the case.

“… Motorola need not prove at this juncture that the entirety of the DMR program is entitled to copyright protection; rather, it must only plausibly allege that Hytera has copied portions of the DMR program that are entitled to copyright protection,” Norgle wrote. “Motorola has met this burden by attaching certificates of registration for the DMR program and alleging that Hytera ‘copied large swaths of Motorola’s DMR program.’ Hytera’s attempt to dissect the scope of the copyright registration is a fact-based inquiry that need not be resolved at the pleading stage.”

The trial for both the theft of trade secrets and copyright infringement claims is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

Motorola and Hytera have been engaged in a wide-ranging legal battle over intellectual property for several years now. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and two German courts have already ruled in favor of Motorola in patent infringement cases.

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