ITC Reconsiders Infringement Ruling in Apple, Motorola Patent Case

Following the dismissal of Apple and Motorola’s patent infringement lawsuit by a Federal Court, the International Trade Commission plans to review its own related ruling that the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is infringing on a Motorola-owned Wi-Fi patent.

ITC reviewing ruling in Apple and Motorola patent infringement complaintIn a ruling late last week, Judge Richard Posner dismissed Apple and Motorola’s patent infringement lawsuit with prejudice, meaning Apple and Motorola are barred from refiling their cases, although they can appeal the ruling. Apple and Motorola have been fighting over claims that they’re using each other’s patents in mobile devices without proper licensing.

Judge Posner told the companies they failed to prove damages with their arguments and that it would be “ridiculous to dismiss a suit for failure to prove damages and allow the plaintiff to refile the suit so that he could have a second chance to prove damages.”

The ruling meant Motorola wouldn’t be able to use the case to get an injunction blocking the sale of the iPhone in the United States based on patents that are considered essential for the industry.

“How could [Motorola] be permitted to enjoin Apple from using an invention that it contends Apple must use if it wants to make a cell phone with UMTS telecommunications capability — without which it would not be a cell phone,” Judge Posner said.

With the ITC revisiting its own ruling, Motorola may find that it has lost yet another potential tool in its fight against Apple.

The ITC is now asking Motorola for more information related to the patented technology it already ruled Apple is using without licensing, and the agency seems to be following the same logic path Judge Posner used to question whether or not the company is trying to block iPhone sales through industry-standard patents.

Assuming the ITC reverses its earlier ruling, Motorola will lose its chance to block U.S. iPhone sales — but it could lose that chance even if the ruling is upheld. Should the ITC deem the patent to fall under the fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) umbrella, Motorola would still be blocked from winning an injunction, although it would be in a better position to force Apple into paying licensing fees.

The ITC expects to issue its new ruling some time in August.

[Thanks to Reuters for the heads up.]