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December 19, 2012

ITC Judge Rules in Favor of Apple in Motorola Patent Lawsuit

Apple emerged victorious from its latest bout with Motorola Mobility after an International Trade Commission judge ruled the iPhone maker did not violate Motorola’s sensor patent.

In his initial determination, Judge Thomas Pender said Apple’s iPhone did not violate the patent covering proximity sensor technology. Pender ruled the main claim in the patent lawsuit to be invalid.

“I hereby determine that no violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended has been found in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, or the sale within the United States after importation of certain wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, computers and components thereof, in connection with claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 6,246,862,” Pender wrote in his decision.

The preliminary ruling must still be approved by the six-person ITC panel before it can be declared final.

A Motorola representative told Bloomberg the company was “disappointed with this outcome and is evaluating our options.”

The ITC is a U.S. body that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods. It is an often-used site for patent lawsuits both because it has the power to ban the importation of products found to be in patent violation and because its rulings are usually prompt.

The commission ruled in August that Apple had not breached three other Motorola patents, and ordered Pender to further scrutinize the touchscreen sensor patent.

Apple and Google-owned Motorola have been in an ongoing patent power-struggle that is complicated by the fact that Google’s Android is the biggest rival of Apple’s iOS.