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US trade body to 'revisit' Motorola's sole patent win over Apple

Commission must eye initial ruling, decide whether to BAN iPHONE in USA

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The US International Trade Commission has said that it will be revisiting an initial ruling made in April that Apple had infringed on one of Motorola Mobility's patents.

Moto, now owned by Google, tried to pin four patent infringements on the fruity firm, but the ITC's administrative law judge only agreed on one in his initial determination, a patent for eliminating noise and interference during voice and data transmissions. Should the final decision go Moto's way, Apple could be barred from importing and selling iPhones (and 3G-enabled iPads) in the US.

The initial determination is not final, of course; ultimately the full ITC must consider the case. It is scheduled to issue a ruling in late summer. The ITC ruled against Motorola on three other patents.

Nevertheless, Motorola is looking for any infringing devices to be barred from importation into the US.

Both Moto and Apple have asked for a review of the decision, Motorola because one of the patents it tried to assert was ruled invalid and Apple because it doesn't agree that it is infringing anything.

The ITC also received public interest statements from Apple, the Federal Trade Commission, Nokia, Microsoft, HP and others over the decision.

The commission said it will review the determination in part and wants both Apple and Motorola to come up with answers to a number of questions, including whether patents that are supposed to be licensed under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms can ever be used to ban imports.

The ITC said that whatever decision it came up with, it would have to consider the public interest when it thought about remedies, implying that even if it agrees with either party, it still might refuse to implement a ban anyway.

A decision from the commission is expected in August. ®

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