Motorola-Hytera Theft of Trade Secrets, Copyright Infringement Trial Begins
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | Comments

The trial for a theft of trade secrets lawsuit Motorola Solutions filed against Hytera Communications in 2017 began last week with jury selection.

Jury selection for the trial occurred on Nov. 6 and opening arguments began Nov. 7. As the plaintiff, Motorola will present its witnesses and case first, followed by Hytera later on in the month.

The trial is expected to last for several weeks because of the complexity of the issues involved. A September memorandum from Hytera noted that the trial could involve more than 50 witnesses and thousands of evidence exhibits between both parties and estimated that it may take 20-22 days to complete. It is unclear how long the jury might take to deliberate and come to a decision following the conclusion of arguments.

In March 2017, Motorola sued Hytera in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that three former Motorola Solutions employees had gone to work for Hytera and taken Motorola trade secrets with them. Hytera then used that technology in its Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) products, Motorola’s complaint said.

Motorola later amended its lawsuit to include a copyright infringement claim after the company said that it learned during the discovery phase for the lawsuit that Motorola source code was found on Hytera computers.

“We believe that Hytera’s unlawful acts create an unfair playing field and threaten the industry’s ability to innovate, ultimately hurting customers,” a Motorola spokesperson said. “We look forward to presenting our trade-secret misappropriation and copyright infringement claims to a jury in Illinois over the next several weeks. Through this litigation, we will ask the jury to award significant damages and the court to issue an injunction against all of Hytera’s DMR products immediately upon completion of the trial. Motorola Solutions will continue to take all necessary actions to stop Hytera’s illegal and unethical conduct and protect our intellectual property.”

Hytera has denied Motorola’s allegations and has argued that the theft of trade of secrets and other lawsuits filed against it by Motorola Solutions are part of a “sham litigation” campaign designed to limit Hytera’s ability to compete in the U.S. market. Hytera filed an anticompetitive practices lawsuit that includes that claim and others in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey in 2017. That case has since been transferred to the same district court as the theft of trade secrets case because of the relation between the cases.

“Hytera looks forward to our day in federal court later this month in the second half of the trial and the opportunity to tell our side of the story about Motorola Solutions’ claims,” a Hytera spokesperson said. “Hytera will be vigorously defending the case and refuting Motorola’s allegations. While Motorola Solutions may try to leverage litigation to control the playing field, our customers and everyday Americans benefit from a marketplace with healthy competition based on innovation.”

The theft of trade secrets and copyright infringement case is just one in a wide-ranging legal battle between Motorola and Hytera. At the time it filed the theft of trade secrets case, Motorola also filed a patent infringement case in the same U.S. district court. That case has not yet reached the trial phase because it was stayed pending the outcome of a patent infringement lawsuit Motorola filed against Hytera with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

Last November, the ITC confirmed an administrative law judge’s earlier decision that Hytera DMR products infringed several Motorola patents and issued an order that prevented Hytera from importing, distributing or selling the infringing products in the U.S. However, the ITC also ruled that a new series of Hytera products, the i-Series, did not infringe the Motorola patents. Following that determination, Hytera ceased sales of its legacy products in the U.S. and offered a firmware update to upgrade existing products to the i-Series.

Abroad, courts in Mannheim and Dusseldorf, Germany, have also ruled that Hytera infringed Motorola patents. Another patent infringement case Motorola filed against Hytera in the Federal Court of Australia is expected to go to trial in 2020.

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