(Reuters) — A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday upheld a win for Apple Inc., HTC Corp. and ZTE Corp. against allegations that imports of their devices infringe on wireless technology patents.
The companies’ smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and other LTE-capable devices do not infringe INVT SPE LLC’s rights in two patents originally owned by Panasonic, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.
The companies and their lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
INVT is a patent holding affiliated with investment funds managed by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp.
Fortress defeated a separate lawsuit last year brought by Apple and Intel that accused it and its subsidiaries, including INVT, of violating antitrust laws by amassing thousands of patents and demanding extortionate licensing fees. Apple later dropped the case, which is currently under appeal.
INVT filed a complaint against Apple, HTC and ZTE with the US International Trade Commission in 2018, accusing their devices that conform to the LTE wireless standard of infringing its patents. It sought a ban on the importation of the allegedly infringing devices.
The commission ruled for device makers in 2020. A three-judge Federal Circuit panel upheld the decision on Wednesday.
U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Chen wrote that the devices did not infringe one of INVT’s patents because they functioned differently than described in the patent. The devices were not capable of receiving and handling data signals in the same way as INVT’s patented technology, the appeals court said.
The Federal Circuit also found that the patent was not essential to the LTE standard and that the devices did not infringe simply by being LTE capable.
The court found that the rest of the appeal was impossible because INVT’s other patent had expired. Apple and ZTE have previously withdrawn from this appeal.