The mobile patent wars continue to drag on, with Motorola scoring a point Tuesday with a preliminary decision against Apple at the International Trade Commission. Apple was judged to have violated one of four Motorola patents with the iPhone, and if a six-judge panel agrees with the preliminary ruling, Apple could theoretically be hit with an injunction on sales of the iPhone in the U.S.
There’s a lot more than needs to happen before Apple will really start to worry, but it would have likely preferred a different outcome. The preliminary ruling involves a Motorola patent on Wi-Fi, which an ITC judge decided covered some aspect of the iPhone according to Bloomberg.
The ITC generally rules more quickly on patent matters than the pace of lawsuits moving through the regular court system, and so has overseen quite a few disputes over the last several years involving mobile patents. The ITC doesn’t have the power to award damages but it does have the power to bar imports if they violate a US patent.
Apple has now been on both ends of an ITC ruling, winning a final ruling last year against HTC that had little actual effect: the ITC delayed the implementation of its ruling, and the HTC then deployed a workaround that bypassed the patented technology very quickly after the ruling emerged.