The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has come to Apple's aid in an ongoing legal dispute with Google-owned Motorola.
In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the FTC argues that a ban on iPhone and iPad sales as a response to alleged patent infringement would "harm competition, innovation and consumers."
The commission brief doesn't attempt to clear Apple of any wrongdoing but rather suggests that the court, should it find Apple has infringed Motorola's patent, should "allow only monetary damages, and not an injunction that prohibits the sale of products incorporating the patented technology."
The patent in question is a standard-essential patent, meaning it has become a deeply ingrained part of smartphone architecture.
Legal deja vu
The FTC's position is that allowing a ban based on a standard-essential patent would have detrimental effects on the entire market, not just the two companies involved in the case.
The suit is a return of the Apple vs. Motorola case filed in the Northern District of Illinois that had been thrown out of court earlier this year.
Initially, the case saw Apple trying to get the court to rule for a ban on Motorola Android smartphones due to infringement on four of its patents.
Both Apple and Motorola filed for a federal circuit appeal, with Motorola now pressing for a ban on Apple devices with its own claim of patent infringement.
The FTC's support for Apple shouldn't come as a surprise to Motorola. In the original case the FTC came to Motorola's defense with a similar brief filed in court for the exact same reasons it's now defending Apple.
With the case already having been thrown out of court once, and a precedent of favoring fines rather than product bans, it's doubtful that the recent appeals will result in any iPhones or iPads pulled from store shelves.
If the case's appeal is shut down we may finally see an end to the patent bickering, since the original case was dismissed without the option for either party to refile.
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