ITC decides Apple didn't violate Motorola WiFi patent after all, tosses case back to judge

Trouble looked to be brewing for Apple last April: an International Trade Commission judge made an initial ruling that Apple infringed on a standards-essential Motorola WiFi patent, raising the possibility of a trade ban if the verdict held true. The fellows in Cupertino may have caught a big break. A Commission review of the decision on Friday determined that Apple didn't violate the patent, and it upheld positions that exonerated the iPhone maker regarding two others. Apple isn't entirely off the hook, however. The ITC is remanding the case to the judge to review his stance that Apple hadn't violated a non-standards-based patent, which still leaves Apple facing the prospect of a ban. However, having to revisit the case nearly resets the clock -- we now have to wait for another ruling and a matching review, and that likely puts any final decision well into 2013. Google-owned Motorola isn't lacking more weapons in its arsenal, but any stalled proceedings take away bargaining chips in what's become a high-stakes game.