Chalk one up for Motorola (NYSE: MMI) and Android: the International Trade Commission has determined that it doesn’t violate any of the patents asserted by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in its case against the company Google (NSDQ: GOOG) hopes to buy for patent protection.
It’s just a preliminary decision that can be overturned by an appeals board later, but as noted by CNET the ruling is another indication that Apple is not going to simply bulldoze its way through the Android community with its patent lawsuits. This dispute concerns three patents asserted by Apple against Motorola smartphones, which Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex ruled do not infringe on the claims Apple made in its complaint to the agency.
So the mobile patent war grinds on, but at a certain point, we must again start to wonder if Apple will start to back down from its “no licenses” standpoint in order to hit Android rivals in the pocketbook and move on from this patent-mad era. Settling several outstanding cases using the licensing model that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has successfully used to extract payments on 70 percent of all Android phones sold in the U.S. could allow Apple to still punish its rivals without having to follow through on the nuclear option former CEO Steve Jobs preferred.
“Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years to develop technology and build an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio,” the company said in a statement. “We are proud to leverage this broad and deep portfolio to create differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience.” If Apple ever responded to requests for comment, they’d probably say something like, “we disagree with this preliminary ruling and continue to believe that our competitors have stolen our innovations and that they are very, very bad people.”