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ITC judge throws out five HTC Google patents in ongoing legal dispute with Apple

Sorry, HTC. The International Trade Commission (ITC) this week rejected HTC's effort to assert patents it obtained from Google against Apple.

The ITC threw out five of the patents HTC got from Google last summer after Apple argued that HTC did not have the right to sue, patent blogger Florian Mueller wrote in a Monday post.

"Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender apparently concluded that HTC failed to acquire all substantial rights in the relevant patents," Mueller wrote.

HTC now has three patents out of eight that it can assert against Apple at the ITC. "The decision to throw out Google's five patents is appealable, and the identified deficiency is theoretically curable, but it's now fairly probable that Apple won't have to defend itself against those patents in the ongoing ITC action," Mueller said.

Google has the option of joining the complaint with HTC, which Mueller speculated "could result in further escalation between Apple and Google." On a larger scale, however, this could affect other suits that are using the "rent-a-patent" model, he wrote.

In a statement, HTC said "we believe the judge's decision is erroneous as a matter of law and will appeal the ruling to the Commission."

"We are confident in our ownership of the patents, and that Apple infringes our intellectual property," HTC continued. "We look forward to presenting our case on the remaining patents to the judge at trial later this year."

The ruling comes about a week after Apple filed its third ITC complaint against HTC, which asked that the commission ban dozens of HTC devices in the U.S.

The ITC in December found that HTC smartphones infringed on Apple-held patents, and banned the import of devices with Apple-owned technology after April 19. HTC developed a workaround, but the HTC EVO 4G LTE and the HTC One X were held up at U.S. Customs while officials verified that the technology had been removed. Apple, however, does not believe that workaround is satisfactory - hence the third ITC complaint.