Google (GOOG) Drops Complaint Against Apple (AAPL)

In a surprise development, Google (GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility said Tuesday that it has withdrawn a patent-infringement claim against rival Apple (AAPL) with the U.S. International Trade Commission [ITC].

In a brief filing with the ITC, Motorola announced that it was dropping its complaint that Apple had infringed on seven non-standard essential Motorola patents.

Motorola Mobility, a maker of Android-based smartphones, had accused the iPhone-maker in a patent complaint filed in mid-August, a week before the Apple v. Samsung $1.05 billion jury verdict, of infringing seven of its patents and asked the ITC to ban Apple products, including iPads and most iPhones.

It’s worth noting that Motorola’s claim didn’t concern the so-called standards essential patents, which are considered crucial for the wireless industry, particularly those rated with highest essentiality, and therefore have been a source of considerable friction between various players in the ongoing smartphone patent disputes.

Motorola also said in the filing that the move wasn’t a result of any “agreements between Motorola and Apple, written or oral, express or implied, concerning the subject matter of this investigation,” and that “Apple and the Office of Unfair Import Investigations Staff Attorney had confirmed that they do not oppose this motion.”

Reuters reported in August that Google and Apple were in secret settlement talks. Motorola Mobility had earlier filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2010, alleging that Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iTouch and certain Mac computers infringed Motorola patents. The lawsuit is still active.

Google, the biggest maker of smartphone software, stunned in May of this year those watching the mobile space when it announced the acquisition of Motorola’s mobile phone business for about $12.5 billion. The acquisition, which allows Google to now own over 17,000 smartphone patents related to competitive technologies, is expected to strengthen the search giant’s move to hardware market and step up its competition with rival Apple.

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