ITC to review Apple victory in Motorola patent case

Federal agency will take a second look at a judge's decision to invalidate a Motorola patent, a ruling that cleared Apple of infringement claims.

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The U.S. International Trade Commission will review an administrative law judge's decision invalidating certain Motorola Mobility patents, which cleared Apple of infringement claims.

The ITC, a federal agency with the power to enforce bans on products shipping to the U.S., posted a notice (PDF) to its Web site today indicating it will take a second look at a decision issued in December by Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender. Pender dismissed the claims after invalidating a Motorola patent covering proximity sensor technology.

The patent in question covers technology that automatically dims a handset's display when the phone senses it's close to the user's face, preventing errant screen commands. Pender said Motorola's patent was not substantially different from a previous invention that prevented accidental dialing.

Motorola argued that the previous art covered push button technology, while its patent applied to touch screens commonly found on smartphones.

The agency said in its notice that its review it would focus on definition of the phrase "touch sensitive input device" as used in Motorola's patent description.

The six-member commission is expected to issues its final decision on April 22.

Motorola declined to comment. CNET also contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we hear back.