ITC rejects Motorola touchscreen patent complaint against Apple

The decision is the last in a series from the 2010 case filed by Motorola, all of which it has lost

The U.S. International Trade Commission has found no evidence that Apple infringed on a Motorola Mobility patent covering a touchscreen function. The finding ends an investigation that began in November 2010 when Motorola petitioned the ITC to ban imports of Apple products because they allegedly infringed a handful of Motorola patents. The ITC has already found no evidence of infringement by Apple on the other patents in question.

The finding covered U.S. patent 6,246,862, which describes a system that disables a touch user interface when a mobile communications device is brought close to the user's body. Such systems are commonly used in smartphones to prevent accidental activation of functions; for example, when a phone brushes against a user's face.

[ Simon Phipps tells it like it is: Why software patents are evil. | Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. | Read Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog for what the key business trends mean to you. ]

Motorola Mobility filed the action against Apple well before it was acquired by Google. It is part of a wider series of battles among smartphone makers. The market for smartphones 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.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies