Google has lost another patent battle as the International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in Apple's favor and against Google's Motorola Mobility division. The six-member commission found that the Motorola patent in question was invalid because the technology involved was "obvious."
Florian Mueller with FOSS Patents reported, "Today the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) threw out the last patent-in-suit remaining in the investigation of Motorola's October 2010 complaint against Apple. U.S. Patent No. 6,246,862 on a 'sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device' was found invalid. The patent relates to the feature that a touch screen ignores touches if the user is on a phone call and holds the device close to his head. Google wanted the ITC to ban the importation of any iPhones with that feature into the U.S. market."
CNET's Josh Lowensohn noted, "In a ruling, the ITC said that Apple was not violating Motorola's U.S. patent covering proximity sensors, which the commission called 'obvious.' It was the last of six patents Motorola aimed at Apple as part of an October 2010 complaint. That complaint was part of a larger legal effort by Motorola against Apple that also involved patent lawsuits in several U.S. District courts."
PCWorld's Martyn Williams observed, "The action against Apple came well before Motorola Mobility was acquired by Google, but is part of a wider series of battles between smartphone makers. The market for such phones is incredibly competitive and several companies have taken to the court system to seek an edge in the market. Most patent disputes are filed in district courts, but the ITC is fast becoming popular because it can ban imports of devices into the U.S. Such a decision is rare but, if taken, can seriously impact a company’s competitive position."
Apple Insider added, "Google has the chance to appeal the ITC decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where another decision on Motorola patents is already being argued."