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By Blake Brittain
(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday upheld victory for Apple Inc (NASDAQ:), HTC Corp and ZTE Corp (HK:) over claims that imports of their devices infringed wireless technology patents .
The Companies’ LTE-Enabled Smartphones, Smartwatches, Tablets and Other Devices Do Not Infringe INVT SPE LLC’s Rights to Two Patents Originally Owned by Panasonic (OTC:), US Court of Appeals Has Said for the federal circuit.
The companies and their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
INVT is a patent-holding company affiliated with investment funds managed by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp.
Fortress last year defeated a separate lawsuit filed by Apple and Intel (NASDAQ:) that accused it and its affiliates, including INVT, of violating antitrust law by stockpiling thousands of patents and demanding exorbitant license fees. Apple then dropped the case, which is currently on appeal.
The INVT filed a lawsuit against Apple, HTC and ZTE with the United States International Trade Commission in 2018, accusing their LTE wireless standard-compliant devices of infringing its patents. He called for a ban on imports of the allegedly infringing devices.
The commission ruled for device makers in 2020. A panel of three federal circuit judges upheld the decision on Wednesday.
U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Chen wrote that the devices did not infringe any of INVT’s patents because they functioned differently from what is described in the patent. The devices were not capable of receiving and processing data signals in the same way as INVT’s patented technology, the appeals court said.
The Federal Circuit also concluded that the patent was not essential to the LTE standard and that the devices did not infringe simply by being LTE-enabled.
The court concluded that the remainder of the appeal was moot because INVT’s other patent had expired. Apple and ZTE previously withdrew from this appeal.