By Dan Levine
(Reuters) - Google's Motorola Mobility unit cannot assert a patent against Apple Inc which covers a sensor that stops phone users from dialing wrong numbers on touchscreen devices, a U.S. trade judge ruled.
In an entry on the U.S. International Trade Commission docket on Tuesday, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender ruled the Motorola patent invalid.
"We're disappointed with this outcome and are evaluating our options," Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Weyrauch-Erickson said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple has been litigating around the world against various manufacturers of phones that operate on Google's Android operating system. Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion this year, partly for its library of telecommunications patents.
The ITC, a U.S. trade panel that investigates patent infringement involving imported goods, is a popular venue for patent lawsuits because it can bar the importation of infringing products and because it issues decisions relatively quickly.
In August, the commission found that Apple had not violated three other Motorola patents, and ordered Pender to further examine the touchscreen sensor patent. The full ITC will now review Pender's latest ruling.
The case in the ITC is In the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, Computers and Components Thereof, 337-745.
(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Ken Wills)
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