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Apple scores latest win in Motorola patent case

The court has granted Apple's motion to rule out one of Motorola's two patents being used in the legal battle between the two companies.

Motorola now has only one patent left to stand on in its ongoing infringement case with Apple.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Posner ruled in Apple's favor yesterday by dismissing Motorola's U.S. Patent No. 6,175,559.

Described in tech terms as a "method for generating preamble sequences in a code division multiple access system," the patent was seen by Motorola as essential to the company's 3G (UMTS) standard, according to Foss Patents' Florian Mueller.

But Apple had argued otherwise, and Posner agreed that the patent should be thrown out. The removal doesn't come as a huge surprise.

To try to limit the confusing array of patents in the case, Posner has been slicing and dicing his way through, eliminating one after the other. Motorola is left with just one patent to assert at the trial, down from six initially. Apple has four, but that's down from 15, according to Mueller. And the judge may not be finished.

"Judge Posner isn't necessarily done winnowing," Mueller said. "There may be more to come. In Judge Posner's court, patents-in-suit are an endangered species."

Apple and Motorola have been hurling a string of patent infringement lawsuits against each other for some time. Motorola has claimed that Apple infringed several of its wireless and smartphone technologies. Apple has alleged that Motorola has violated some of its key patents related to iOS devices.

The suit that Posner is handling is filed in the Northern District of Illinois.

Of course, the real battle is between Apple and Google, a conflict that was a sore point for the late Steve Jobs.

Posner recently ruled against Apple's request to keep details from Jobs' authorized biography out of court, finding that Jobs' "thermonuclear war" comment about Android is admissable.

The Apple leader was quoted by his biographer Walter Isaacson as declaring that, "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Apple and Motorola are set to take the case to trial in Chicago this month.