Apple Wins Patent-Infringement Case

Article excerpt

Byline: Bloomberg News

Apple Inc. won a patent- infringement case brought by Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility unit over a phone sensor, averting an order that could have hindered imports of the iPhone 4 into the U.S.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington upheld a judge's findings that the Motorola Mobility patent is invalid, though for different reasons. The patent covers a sensor that prevents the phone from accidentally hanging up or activating an application when close to a person's face.

The decision marks the latest instance in which neither Cupertino, California-based Apple nor Google has been able to strike a decisive blow against its competitor in a squabble that began more than two years ago. Each has claimed the other is infringing patents, and Apple accused Motorola Mobility of breaching obligations to license some of its most widely used technology on fair terms.

"This is not a surprise because the commission has heretofore not found a violation by Apple in any case as to any claim in any patent," said Rodney Sweetland, a patent lawyer with Duane Morris in Washington who specializes in ITC cases. "The commission is particularly attentive to the details in cases involving Apple, which implicate such a popular product and such an important part of commerce."

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Google, said the Mountain View, California-based company was disappointed and is "evaluating our options." Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple, said the company had no comment.

The iPhone, in all models, generated $78.7 billion in sales last fiscal year for Apple, about half of the company's revenue. The devices are assembled in China and imported into the U.S. Apple's newest model, the iPhone 5, has been the company's top seller since going on sale in September. Still, reduced-price older models like the iPhone 4 have retained their popularity, Canaccord Genuity Inc. …