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Friday, April 29, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

ITC judge rules Apple did not infringe Elan multitouch patent

International Trade Commission judge Paul Luckern has ruled that Apple did not violate a patent held by Taiwanese touchscreen maker Elan Microelectronics.

The ruling, as reported by Reuters, will be followed up by a formal ITC decision that can either accept or reject the judge's findings. The final decision is expected to be released in August.

In March 2010, Elan had accused Apple of "knowingly and deliberately" using its technology and infringing on a patent it owns related to multitouch sensing. The case involved MacBook trackpads and Apple's Magic Mouse.

A year prior, Elan had sued Apple over the same patent in a case that involved iPhone, iPod touch and MacBook trackpads, claiming a violation of its finger positioning technology. Prior to its accusations against Apple, Elan had successfully litigated an infringement claim against trackpad manufacturer Synaptics.

Judge Luckern had previously been involved in a 2006 ITC complaint filed by Creative against Apple's iPod in the "Zen Patent" case, but the two companies reached a settlement prior to the ITC's ruling in that case.

Last month, ITC judge James Gildea ruled Apple did not infringe five Nokia patents, after ITC staff determined in November that Apple had not provided enough evidence to establish a patent violation in 13 patents Apple had alleged against Nokia in its countersuit.