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Google’s Motorola Drops One ITC Patent Case Against Apple

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Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.’s Motorola Mobility unit said it was withdrawing a patent-infringement complaint it filed in August against Apple Inc. at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Motorola Mobility reserved the right to refile claims against the iPhone maker, and said there had been no agreement between the two companies, according to filing on the ITC’s electronic docket. It gave no reason for withdrawing the complaint.

A notice of dismissal also was filed in a companion civil lawsuit filed in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, have been fighting about smartphone-related patents since at least 2010 after licensing talks failed. A non-jury trial on Apple’s claims that Motorola Mobility violated obligations to license some of its patents on fair terms is scheduled to begin Nov. 5 in a federal court in Madison, Wisconsin.

Neither Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, nor Christa Smith, a spokeswoman for Motorola Mobility, had an immediate comment on withdrawal of the ITC complaint. Dockets in other cases pending between the companies don’t show other requests for dismissal.

Smartphone Features

The case being withdrawn accused Apple of infringing seven Motorola Mobility patents on features including interactive voice commands, location reminders, e-mail notification and phone/video players. Motorola Mobility, which Google bought in May, said in August it hoped the filing of the suit -- and the threat against Apple’s iPhone -- would push the two sides into settlement talks.

Another case is pending at the Washington trade agency, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents. The commission on Aug. 24 cleared Apple of infringing three Motorola Mobility patents, and told the judge to consider whether a fourth patent, for a sensor to protect against accidental hangups, was infringed.

ITC Judge Thomas Pender, in an order dated yesterday, said he will make a decision by Dec. 21 on that issue.

The case to be withdrawn is In the Matter of Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing devices, Computers, and Components Thereof, 337-856, and the earlier case is In the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music Data, Processing Data Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-745. Both are in the 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: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net