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ITC awards victory to Apple in Motorola patent case


Apple won another round yesterday in a patent suit brought by Motorola Mobility against the Cupertino company. Motorola had complained to the International Trade Commission (ITC) about Apple's use of a proximity sensor in all versions of the iPhone, stating that it owned that patent. ITC Judge Thomas Pender ruled that the Motorola patent is invalid, and that Apple didn't violate it in designing the iPhone.

This is the latest skirmish in the ongoing patent fight between Apple and Google, which purchased Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion mainly for a stash of 17,000 patents. Google hopes that those patents will help defend Android phone designs against infringement claims being made by Apple.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreed that a district court decision to deny Motorola's bid for an injunction on several Apple products was correct. In that case, the FTC felt that been using the threat of an injunction in what's called a "patent hold-up," when the owner of a standard-essential patent threatens legal action to pull in higher-than-usual royalty rates and licensing terms.

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