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ITC: Apple iPhone does not infringe on Motorola sensor patent

Apple has emerged victorious in a patent battle against Google's Motorola, with the International Trade Commission (ITC) finding that the Cupertino-based firm did not infringe on Motorola's sensor-related patent with its iPhone.

"Having examined the record of this investigation, ... the commission has determined to terminate the investigation with a finding of no violation ... with respect to the '862 patent," the ITC said in its Monday decision.

As noted by patent blogger Florian Mueller, the '862 patent covers a "sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device" - or a feature that prevents accidental hangups or app launches when you have a touch-screen phone up to your face while talking on the phone.

Motorola wanted the ITC to ban the importation of iPhones that included this feature, but the ITC shot down that effort.

"We're disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options," a Motorola spokeswoman said in a statement.

The fight dates back to November 2010, when Motorola filed its initial complaint with the ITC and accused Apple of violating six of its patents. Over time, some of those patents were thrown out, while the full commission went back and forth with the its administrative law judge over decisions regarding the others.

More recently, ITC Judge Thomas Pender in December 2012 found that Apple did not violate Motorola's sensor patent because the patent was invalid. Motorola appealed that decision, and the ITC agreed to review Pender's decision. However, it has once again ruled in favour of Apple.

Mueller said Motorola, now owned by Google, can appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The ITC is not the only venue where Apple and Motorola are fighting over patents, though. They are also battling it out in a Florida district court, where the judge there recently accused the two companies of prolonging the case for strategic business purposes.

"The parties' obstreperous and cantankerous conduct - combined with the existence of similar cases by the same parties or their affiliates throughout the world - makes it plain that the parties have no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute," Judge Robert N. Scola said earlier this month.