The US International Trade Commission (ITC) yesterday upheld a court ruling that Motorola Mobility's smartphone sensor patent was invalid, delivering a blow in Google's patent battle with arch rival Apple.
''We're disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options,'' Google said in a statement, which now has the option of appealing against the ruling with the Federal circuit court.
The sensor patent was the last remaining patent infringement lawsuit pending against Apple by Motorola after the ITC in August 2012 ruled in favour of Apple on allegations that it had infringed Motorola Mobility patents for third-generation wireless technology that are used as a standard throughout the industry.
Motorola first approached the Washington-based agency in 2010 to impose a ban on importing Apple's flagship device the iPhone into the US market.
Motorola had alleged that Apple had infringed on six patents, including on features like interactive voice commands, location reminders, e-mail notification and phone/video players and a sensor that prevented accidental dialing on keypads.
Two of the lawsuits were terminated while the ITC had ruled in Apple's favour on three others leaving a lawsuit covering a sensor that prevents the smartphone from accidentally hanging up or activating an application when close to a user's face.
In a preliminary ruling passed in December 2012, the ITC had found that Apple did not infringe on this patent since it is invalid since it is not different enough from earlier inventions, called ''prior art''. The commission revalidated the ruling yesterday.
Google, which has developed the Android operating system software for mobile phones, had targeted Motorola Mobility for its more than 17,000 valuable telecommunication patents. It acquired the company in 2011 for $12.5 billion.
Since 2010, Apple also has been trying to get an injunction restricting the sale of Motorola phones on the ground that after Motorola embraced Google's Android operating system, infringed on four of its patents for key smartphone technologies.
The court threw out nearly all but one of Motorola claims against Apple, while retaining some of Apple's claims against Motorola.
Motorola agreed to license a wireless communication patent to Apple on fair and reasonable terms under the industry standard called FRAND.
Apple has been embroiled in several lawsuits around the globe against its rivals like Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and others.
But its main target in the patent war is with the South Korean electronics giant Samsung, which competes in the $465-billion smartphone and the tablet PC market.