Apple in slide-to-lock patent win over Motorola

Apple wins another German court battle which could see Motorola smartphones either altered or banned from sale in the country.

Patents

Various Motorola smartphones could be removed from sale in Germany, after Apple won another court battle in the country.

Presiding Judge Dr Peter Gintz announced the decision in the Munich I Regional Court that many Motorola products infringe on an Apple patent covering the way a device is unlocked "by performing gestures on an unlock image."

Motorola said it plans to appeal the decision, whilst Apple could enforce an injunction on sales of its competitor's devices deemed to have infringed on patents.

Today's ruling is significant bad news for Android at large, and Google.

If Motorola fails to win that appeal it may have to alter its phones in Germany so they don't infringe the related patent and can remain on sale.

Motorola is to be acquired by Google after regulators gave the green light for the deal this month. IP expert Florian Mueller believes the case in Germany will be bad news for the Mountain View giant.

"Apple is asserting the same patent as well as a related utility model against Samsung in Mannheim, and can always bring claims against more Android device makers in this jurisdiction," Mueller said in a blog post.

"Today's ruling is significant bad news for Android at large, and Google.

"In two weeks, Apple may win another Munich decision against Motorola, over a photo gallery page-turning patent. That ruling was also scheduled for today, but postponed. Also in early March, one of Apple's slide-to-unlock cases against Samsung will be adjudicated in Mannheim."

It has also emerged Microsoft has filed patent litigation against Motorola, over IP relating to a "soft input panel system and method" allegedly used in the company's Android devices.

"Today's ruling and the revelation of this new Microsoft lawsuit show that the noose keeps tightening around Android's neck in many ways."

Android has been the focus of much patent litigation. It remains in a protracted battle with Oracle, with the trial expected to start in March. Oracle has alleged Android infringes on patents and copyrights related top Java.

"If the court orders the confiscation and destruction of the forensic material [i.e. the code in question] it would destroy the foundation of the Android application ecosystem," Mueller told IT Pro last year.

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