The US International Trade Commission (USITC) [official website] ruled [text, PDF] Monday that Apple did not infringe a Motorola [corporate websites] patent covering proximity sensors. The USITC concluded that the concept at issue was too obvious to merit patent protection. Although Apple is based in the US, it outsources production of its mobile units to factories in China and Brazil, making it vulnerable to a challenge in the USITC. The patent [text version] marks the last of six that Motorola accused Apple of infringing in an October 2010 complaint. The USITC ruled that three of these complaints were illegitimate, and Motorola willingly dropped the other two.
The USITC has been involved in smartphone patent litigation recently. In December Swedish telecom company Ericsson [corporate website] filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the USITC against Samsung [corporate website] seeking an import ban on Samsung's Galaxy line of products. Last July the USITC ruled [JURIST report] that Apple and Research in Motion did not illegitimately use digital image preview technology patented by Eastman Kodak [official website]. In October the USITC ruled [JURIST report] that Samsung infringed four intellectual property patents held by Apple.