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The US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) has ruled (pdf) that Apple does not violate any patents held by S3 Graphics, putting a question mark over the value HTC can get from its proposed acquisition of the graphics chip company.

HTC announced its intention to buy S3 Graphics – along with its 235 graphics technology patents – for US$300 million in July. With the rejection of the S3 patent complaint, the value of these patents may be reduced. HTC was counting on a victory to bolster its patent battles with Apple.

At the time of the acquisition announcement, HTC CFO Winston Yung said the company intended to use the patents “defensively and offensively”.

The decision marks the first time the six-member Trade Commission has ruled on one of the dozen cases at the agency stemming from the battle for the smartphone market.

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