The decision marks the latest instance in which neither Cupertino, California-based Apple nor Google has been able to strike a decisive blow against its competitor in a squabble that began more than two years ago. Each has claimed the other is infringing patents, and Apple accused Motorola Mobility of breaching obligations to license some of its most widely used technology on fair terms.
Patent No. 6,246,862 references a "sensor controlled user interface for portable communication device," or the sensor in the iPhone that prevents the phone from being activated when close to a user's face.
The dispute between Motorola and Apple began in 2010 after Motorola filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the Cupertino-based company infringed on eighteen of Motorola's patents. After being acquired by Google, Motorola expanded its charges against Apple, stating that the company violated six patents having to do with iCloud.
The patent that was invalidated today is the final patent in the above mentioned case, with all other charges against Apple previously cleared by the ITC. Google will likely appeal the decision, thus further extending the litigation between the two companies.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Scola chastised Apple and Google for their patent disagreements, stating that the two had "no interest in efficiently and expeditiously resolving this dispute." He gave the companies four months to streamline the case before it would be put on hold.