ITC judge sides with Apple in latest Motorola patent spat

Apple's iPhone has been cleared of infringing on one of Motorola's patents, the International Trade Commission said today. The ruling is not final.

Apple's iPhone does not infringe on a sensor patent held by Motorola Mobility, a judge at the U.S. International Trade Commission said today.

In an initial determination, ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender said Apple's iPhone did not infringe on a patent covering proximity sensor technology, because the main claim in that patent is invalid.

The ruling is preliminary and needs to be approved by the ITC's full six-member commission.

"We're disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options," a Motorola representative told Bloomberg, which reported the news Tuesday afternoon.

The spat is one of a few between the two tech giants, which compete with each other in the mobile-devices market. It's further complicated by the fact that Google bought Motorola Mobility as part of a deal that cleared earlier this year. Google, of course, makes Android, the direct competitor to Apple's iOS.

Technology companies in recent years have increasingly turned to the ITC to settle their disputes. Companies can pursue an ITC case in parallel with civil lawsuits, and the threat of an embargo on products typically forces companies to settle more quickly.

The public version of the ruling is below:

ITC ruling (Apple/Motorola)

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