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Apple scores another win in Motorola patent fight

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Motorola was dealt a setback in its patent fight with Apple after a judge dimissed one of two patents Motorola was trying to assert against Cupertino.

As reported by patent blogger Florian Mueller, Chicago district Judge Richard Posner dismissed a Motorola patent that covered a "method for generating preamble sequences in a code division multiple access system".

According to Motorola, that patent is a standards essential one, or integral to the operation of 3G devices. As Mueller noted, Motorola is now down to one patent that it can assert against Apple - it initially sued Cupertino over six. The remaining patent covers data packet transfer technology (GPRS), which Motorola successfully asserted against Apple in a German court back in December.

Motorola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Four of the 15 patents Apple originally asserted in its case are still in play, Mueller said.

"According to its own claim that 'it only takes one bullet [i.e., standard-essential patent] to kill', Motorola would still be able to achieve its objectives with the sole remaining patent", Mueller wrote. "But it will then depend entirely on the jury's assessment of its claims with respect to a single patent. That's a gamble. And even if it prevails, there will be a FRAND trial".

FRAND licensing obligations - or fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory - are intended to keep major corporations in check and avoid abusive patent-related behavior. Basically, if a company holds a patent on a technology that is essential to a particular industry, they should make every effort to license that technology, even to major rivals.

Companies like Apple and Microsoft allege that Motorola is doing no such thing, and demanding exorbitant fees to license its technology. Those accusations prompted the European Commission to open a formal patent investigation into Motorola back in April.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported that Apple is likely to lose its bid to have the Motorola Xoom tablet banned in Germany. "We don't think someone sits in a coffee house using the Xoom and hopes other people will think he owns an iPad", Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann said at a hearing in Dusseldorf.