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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org