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Apple granted injunction in Motorola patent case

Apple has been granted a hearing by a U.S. judge for an injunction against the sale of some Motorola phones.

A trial between Google's Motorola Mobility unit and Apple was cancelled by Judge Richard Posner in Chicago last week, who said in a tentative ruling that neither could prove damages.

However the judge has decided this week to let attorneys plead their case on an injunction before he makes a final decision, which gives the  iPhone maker a chance to head off a damaging ruling in the smartphone patent wars.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment, while Google representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Motorola sued Apple in October 2010, a move that was widely seen as a pre-emptive strike against an imminent Apple lawsuit.

Apple filed its own claims against Motorola the same month.

Posner issued a series of pre-trial rulings that eliminated nearly all of Motorola's patent claims against Apple from the prospective trial, while maintaining more of Apple's claims against Motorola.

That meant Apple had more to gain in the trial, which had been set to start this week.

Apple had sought an injunction barring the sale of Motorola products, but in last week's ruling cancelling the trial, Posner said an injunction would be "contrary to the public interest."

One legal observer has said Posner's decision had a good chance of getting overturned on appeal, in part because the judge had rejected Apple's request for a hearing.

Posner set the injunction hearing for June 20 in Chicago.

Motorola may also ask for an injunction on the one patent in the case that it can still assert against Apple.

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