Apple hasn't infringed on a disputed Motorola patent in its iPhone, an appeals court said on Friday.
The ruling is a blow to Motorola, which had petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., after an earlier ruling by the International Trade Commission.
Motorola had gone to the trade court as part of its battle against Apple because the trade court has the ability to block the import of products it considers to be infringing on U.S. patents. Because Apple manufactures the iPhone overseas, Motorola had been hoping to get the phone blocked from the U.S. market.
Its original complaint to the ITC had covered a number of patents, but its appeal only concerned the ITC's finding on U.S. Patent 6,272,666, "Method and apparatus in a wireless communication system for controlling a delivery of data."
The patent concerns a system whereby the cellular network has a record of the capabilities of a certain handset, so it only sends data across the network that is applicable to the handset.
The appeals court's examination of the ITC judgment used slightly different reasoning but confirmed the original ruling.
The case is one of many being fought between smartphone manufacturers over patents. Apple, as market leader, is the target for several of the lawsuits and is still fighting a high-profile battle with number-two vendor Samsung Electronics.
That case, which has already seen two jury trials, is still working its way through the California court system and the second part of the case is due to go before a jury in March. On Wednesday, lawyers for Apple and Samsung said the CEOs of each company plan to sit down sometime in the next six weeks to see if they can compromise and end the fight.
The odds of them settling that lawsuit are not good.
To date, juries have awarded Apple around US$930 million in damages from Samsung as part of the case.
The appeals court case is 2012-1666, Motorola Mobility LLC v. International Trade Commission, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.