This week Circuit Judge Posner, who is serving by designation on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to preside over an Apple v. Motorola Mobility lawsuit, entered an order that, among other things, tells the parties to trim the number of patents in play, reports “FOSS Patents” (

The order acknowledges that Apple and Motorola made a January 30 submission that complied with a request to inform the court “of what patents they wish to litigate in the liability trial,” but “not fully satisfactorily” to Posner. The judge wants more “winnowing” to take place, notes “FOSS Patents.”

Originally, there were 15 Apple and six Motorola patents at issue. The judge threw out some of those claims on summary judgment, and the parties dropped others in order to be cooperative and to narrow the case, reports “FOSS Patents.”

This is part of an ongoing battle. Earlier this month the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Motorola’s Droid smartphones don’t violate three Apple patents. The ruling is preliminary and needs to be approved by the ITC’s full six-member commission.

Apple has previously alleged that Motorola infringes 24 of its patents (21 of them with Android-based phones, the remaining three with set-top boxes and DVRs), while Motorola previously asserted 18 patents against a variety of Apple products (mostly but not exclusively iPhone, iPad and iPod). Litigation between the two companies has taken place in several different federal courts — primarily the Western District of Wisconsin and the Southern District of Florida — as well as before the ITIC.

In November 2010 Apple sued Motorola, alleging that the company’s smartphone lineup and the operating software it uses infringe on the iPhone-maker’s intellectual property. The two lawsuits came after Motorola sued Apple in October 2010 for patent infringement. Motorola claims that Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and certain Mac computers infringe Motorola patents.