A U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) judge ruled Friday that Apple is not violating five patents owned by cell phone powerhouse Nokia, an important, if preliminary, victory for Apple in a patent battle between the two companies. The two companies have been engaged in a back and forth dispute since 2009, with each accusing the other of violating patents in their respective smartphone product lines.
Nokia filed a suit against Apple in October of 2009, which prompted a countersuit from Apple (along with some corporate bluster — also by both companies). Duplicate complaints were then filed by both companies at the ITC, and in the UK and the European Union itself.
Today’s ruling from the ITC concerns Nokia’s charges against Apple. The initial ruling comes from Administrative Law Judge E. James. Gildea of the ITC, who found that Apple does not violate five patents when it comes to mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.
The judge’s ruling still has to undergo a review by the full 6-member commission, and that commission could modify the initial ruling as it sees fit. In other words, even this stage of the legal battle between the two companies isn’t over.