Another win for Apple as ITC remands Motorola complaint for further judicial investigation

by: J. Angelo RacomaAugust 26, 2012

Apple just made a clean sweep in the U.S. courts, with a “guilty” verdict for Samsung. The courts have granted Apple just over $1 billion in damages from patent infringement, and may further decide on a ban on offending Samsung products deemed to have infringed on Apple’s iPhone patents.

Apple is also winning in other fronts — or at least it is at an advantage in other trade-related concerns. While Motorola is seeking an injunction on the importation of the iPhone and iPad to the U.S., the decision on whether to impose a ban might take a while.

Recall that Motorola has filed a petition with the International Trade Commission to ban imports of the iPhone and iPad into U.S. soil due to patent infringement. It turns out that the ITC has cleared Apple with respect to three of the four patents-in-suit.

However, the ITC says that upon an initial determination, Apple may have infringed on a non-standard essential patent, which could potentially lead to an import ban. In particular, the said patent is for  the “sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device.”

The ITC, however, has decided to remand further action and investigation on the matter to Administrative Law Judge Thomas B. Pender, reports FOSS Patents.

Apple was cleared with respect to three of Motorola’s patents-in-suit, including the aforementioned standard-essential one. But with respect to U.S. Patent No. 6,246,862 on a “sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device”, a non-standard-essential patent, the investigation was remanded to Administrative Law Judge Thomas B. Pender. The judge had found claim 1 of that patent indefinite and, as a result, not violated. The ITC has reversed his indefiniteness finding. As a result, there could (but need not) be a finding of a violation with respect to this patent, and an import ban.

While this might initially seem a win for Motorola and Google, the problem here is timing. An initial determination by the judge will still be subject to a review by the ITC. The entire process could take at least one year. With that, whatever damages ensuing from the alleged patent infringement would have already been moot, especially since iPhones and iPads will continue to be sold in the U.S.

Apart from this particular patent-related complaint, Motorola has lodged another lawsuit with the ITC, alleging that Apple has infringed on seven technology patents. Motorola is again asking the commission to impose a ban on the importation of Apple products.

It’s an all-out war in the patent realm, and Apple has scored the biggest win, so far. Everything else seems to be peripheral, in comparison to $1 billion. Is the current patent system helpful in ensuring the viability of  inventions? Or is patent litigation only hurting innovation?

  • michael sanchez

    Die apple die. I or any of my family members will never us or own a apple product. So much so we made the school purchase tablets other than apple.

  • YRaj

    This is so much BS…every case where someone gets an upper hand gets delayed for some reason..while they get to block other products without any ruling…for example the major spoil of HTC’s 4G LTE launch…customs held up the product until after the launch date, subsequently releasing it later…however mission accomplished, an excellent product, better than the IPhone 4S, had its launch spoiled…while Apple gets tons of free marketing from a media world over products that are much less than revolutionary…we await IPhone 5 and its frenzied cult clan.

  • tehjoker

    “Hurt innovation?” Umm well duh, judge koh did that one handedly and the uspto just added to the reatardedness of it all by handing out bland generic patents like “a rectangle with rounded corners” – gimme a fu**’n break…

  • Roland Bechtel

    When we cannot live our lives without being constantly tethered to the Interwebs. We are trading food for bandwidth. If everyone had a smart phone in my family we would pay over 300 dollars a month. With a 30 dollar a month DSL and 75 dollar cable bill. Now there are the services on the Web and Cable pummeling us with commercials shoving products and pictures of “single girls” in our faces. Someone asked me why I havent dragged my father into this technological age. He is too smart to be lured into this sloth of despond.