Judge Lucy Koh strikes down a federal patent law that bans Uber from suing companies for patent infringement.
The ruling comes as Uber and UberX compete with Lyft and Sidecar.
The decision is a blow to Uber and other ride-hailing services that have been suing big technology companies over patents.
Uber sued a patent troll in April.
The patent troll was trying to get Uber to stop paying the patent fees that it charges for its ride-sharing service.
Koh ruled that Uber and the troll were not in competition because the patent law is “unfair and discriminatory.”
“The Court finds that the use of the ‘federal patent law’ to ban a competitor’s use of an patented product is a ‘substantially identical’ exercise to the ‘disregard of competition’ requirement,” she wrote.
The ruling applies to the patent troll, which sued Uber in April in the Eastern District of Texas.
The judge found that Uber could use the patent-law ban to prevent its rivals from suing it for infringement.
“Uber is using the patent ban to suppress its competitors’ use of its platform,” the judge wrote.
“The ‘fraudulent’ claims against Uber that the troll made against Uber in court are invalid, and the claims of Uber against Uber’s competitor must be dismissed.”
The judge ruled that the ban was also invalid under the Sherman Antitrust Act because it is “an exercise of an unlawful patent-exclusion regime.”
The court did not order Uber to pay any damages to Uber.
Uber argued that the patent is a way to make the company more competitive by keeping it out of the limelight.
Uber has not filed a counterclaim against the judge.
Uber’s fight with the patent holder is just one of many in the industry.
Last week, the National Restaurant Association said it would sue Uber over its “monopoly” on the fast-food industry.