International Trade Commission determines Apple is violating Motorola patent

In an initial determination sure to cause nervousness amongst the iPhone faithful, the US International Trade Commission has found that Apple is infringing on a 3G wireless patent owned by Motorola Mobility, and “induces others” to similarly infringe the patent without knowing that they’re doing so. Should we start worrying about whether or not we’ll ever see an iPhone 5 yet?

According to Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender, Apple is guilty of not only infringing on two of Motorola’s wireless patents, but also inducing others to do the same thing. The decision comes as the result of a 2010 lawsuit brought against Apple for potential infringement of five patents that sought to permanently prevent the company from continuing to do so – which could mean, ultimately, the discontinuation of products affected by the infringement, including the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.

The initial determination remains partially private until both Apple and Motorola have submitted redactions to the court in order to protect proprietary information. It doesn’t go into detail about what effects the finding will have on Apple’s future, but there are reasons for the occupants of 1 Infinite Loop to be optimistic. Not only has the company has already been told by a German court that it could potentially work around the patent, but it’s also possible that Apple parts supplier Qualcomm’s license with Motorola may cover Apple usage, meaning that the determination itself could turn out to be flawed.

The ITC Commissioners have until August to review the ruling before making a final decision as to whether or not to impose sanctions on Apple.

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