Apple Gets Mixed Ruling in S3 Patent Case Before ITC

Apple Inc. (AAPL) received a mixed ruling in the patent-infringement case brought by closely held S3 Graphics Co. over a type of chip used to play video games on mobile devices.

Apple violates two S3 patents and was found to not have infringed two others, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge James Gildea said in a notice today on the Washington-based agency’s website. The findings are subject to review by the six- member commission, which can block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents.

S3, whose Texture Compression feature is used in Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation portable gaming systems, claimed Apple was infringing four patents. The Fremont, California-based company’s image compression technology allows for access to encoded large color and 3-D image files to present lifelike animation in video games.

The ITC complaint targets Apple’s Macintosh computer, iPhone, iPad tablet and iPod Touch as well as video games for those devices. Cupertino, California-based Apple makes its products overseas and imports them into the U.S. for sale.

The ITC will decide within 60 days whether it will review the judge’s decision. The case is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1, according to information on the commission’s website.

Apple is involved in more than a dozen patent cases at the ITC, a quasi-judicial trade agency that has become a de facto arbiter for disputes over intellectual property rights.

The commission yesterday ordered a judge to take a second look at a case brought by Eastman Kodak Co. over an image preview feature in mobile phones. The ITC also said in a separate case that Apple wasn’t violating patent claims brought by Taiwanese chip designer Elan Microelectronics Corp. over touch-controlled screens,

The case In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices with Image Processing Systems, 337-724, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Allan Holmes at aholmes25@bloomberg.net

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