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Google can't use finger-fumble patent to poke Apple - Trade panel

International Trade Commission declares Motorola finger slip patent invalid

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The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has declared that a Motorola "finger slip" patent that stopped users dialling wrong numbers is invalid. That means it cannot be asserted against Apple or used to ban or block Apple products by the patent's new owner, Google.

The ITC ruling by Judge Thomas Pender, reported by Reuters, dismisses key Google patent war ammunition against Apple. This patent was held by Google's Motorola Mobility unit and described a sensor preventing users from dialling wrong numbers on touchscreen phones. Three other patents Motorola tried to assert against Apple, including one which targeted Siri, were dismissed in August.

Google paid out $12.5 billion for Motorola in a deal agreed at the end 2011, largely for its bulging briefcase of telecoms patents.

The ITC is a popular place for patent disputes because it can make rulings quickly and has the power to ban imports, but commenters have recently suggested it has a bias towards Apple.

"Apple at the ITC is bulletproof," a trade-case legal specialist told Bloomberg back in September.

Nobody can get any traction against them there. The lesson is, if you want to get relief against Apple, it's going to have to be in a foreign forum where it doesn't have the clout or the cachet it has at the ITC or the northern district of California.

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Motorola filed the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-TA-856, on 17 August - docket 2910

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