“Companies that own a key patent, such as those that ensure mobile and other electronic devices work together, should be allowed to win sales bans as a punishment for infringement only in rare, very specific cases, the Justice Department and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said in a joint policy statement on Tuesday,” Diane Bartz reports for Reuters. “The Federal Trade Commission, which with the Justice Department enforces U.S. antitrust law, has also argued that infringement of “standard essential patents” should be punished with monetary damages, not bans, except in a handful of specific cases.”

“The usual expectation among corporations has been that standard essential patents will be inexpensively licensed to anyone,” Bartz reports. “Tuesday’s statement appealed to the U.S. International Trade Commission to make the public interest paramount in deciding whether to order an injunction against an imported good that uses an essential patent. ‘The USITC, may conclude, after applying its public interest factors, that exclusion orders (sales injunctions) are inappropriate,’ the Justice Department and patent department said.”

Batrz reports, “The Federal Trade Commission, in a December filing, argued that Motorola Mobility, a unit of Google, was not entitled to ask a court to stop the sale of Apple iPhones and iPads that it said infringe on a patent that is essential to wireless technology. The ITC, meanwhile, is considering accusations that Apple infringed patents owned by Samsung Electronics in making the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. Essential patents are part of that mix as well. An administrative law judge at the ITC said in a preliminary ruling in September that Apple was innocent of violating the patents. A final decision is expected this month.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple contests design patents. The slavish copiers of Apple products abuse utility patents (SEPs) in order to try to protect themselves. No more.

Ever so slowly the stars are aligning for Apple.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “silverhawk1″ for the heads up.]