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Motorola Wins Partial Victory Over Apple in 3G Patent Dispute; Apple Will Appeal

by Brandon Russell | April 24, 2012April 24, 2012 11:15 am PDT

Motorola-AppleA preliminary ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission found Apple to have infringed upon one out of four Motorola Mobility patents. Administrative Law Judge Thomas B. Pender found Apple to have violated a patent essential to the 3G standard, both UMTS and CDMA, and, if the ruling is upheld — which FOSSPatents believes is unlikely — Apple would be prevented from importing both iPhone and iPads with 3G-capabilities.

The decision may not, however, apply to the iPhone 4S, which incorporates a Qualcomm baseband chip. Motorola previously took Apple to court in Germany for the very same thing, but the telecommunications company lost the suit “because there was doubt that every implementation of 3G/UMTS would inevitably infringe,” FOSSPatents said.

This is the second preliminary decision ruled in Motorola’s favor in as many days. But since the patents are deemed essential, the Schaumburg company’s judicial pursuits may face an antitrust investigation in the U.S. — a formal investigation is already underway by the European Commission.

“We are pleased that the ALJ’s initial determination finds Apple to be in violation of Motorola Mobility’s intellectual property, and look forward to the full commission’s ruling in August,” Motorola told AllThingsD. “Our commitment to innovation is a primary reason why we are an industry-leader in intellectual property, and our focus continues to be on building on this strong foundation to enhance the user experience.”

Apple’s also not too worried about the ruling. “We’re glad the court ruled in our favor on three of four patents being considered,” Apple said in a statement obtained by AllThingsD. “The fourth covers industry-standard technology which Motorola has refused to license to Apple on reasonable terms. A court in Germany has already declared this patent invalid, so we believe we will have a very strong case on appeal.”

Interestingly, FOSSPatents suggests that if Motorola continues to pursue companies, Apple and Microsoft specifically, citing standard-essential patents, “it would make sense for Google to have second thoughts about the [acquisition of Motorola].”

[via FOSSPatents, AllThingsD]


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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