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Motorola will appeal against Apple injunction in Germany

Apple granted victory in 'slide-to-unlock' patent dispute

Motorola will appeal against a ruling in the Munich I Regional Court that granted Apple an injunction preventing sales of Motorola handsets in Germany.

The BBC reports that the company is planning to lodge the appeal after presiding judge Dr Peter Guntz found that several Motorola products infringed on an Apple patent covering the 'slide-to-unlock' feature used on iOS devices.

Three different implementations of the slide-to-unlock feature were examined by the court - in two cases, it was considered that they did infringe on Apple's patent. In a third case, that of the implementation of the slide-to-unlock feature on the Motorola Xoom tablet - where you slide your finger from the centre of a circle to the outside of the circle to unlock the device - Apple's complaint was rejected.

However, the victory in the first two complaints gives Apple the option to impose a permanent injunction on sales of Motorola devices that use those particular unlocking methods.

Patent expert Florian Mueller, writing on his Foss Patents blog, said that Motorola would be able to get around any sales ban, should Apple choose to impose it. "There's no question that they can keep their products available by modifying them," he wrote.

Mueller suggested that Motorola could simply utilise the system used on the Motorola Xoom on the devices deemed to infringe Apple's patents in order to get around a sales ban.

"If Motorola wants to play it safe in Germany, it implements the slide-to-unlock circle across its entire product range. That one was cleared by the regional court and is safe at least until the end of the appeals proceeding. But for the reasons I explained above, it's not very intuitive, and I don't think it can work well on typical smartphone screens," he said.

But Motorola would fight the ruling too, Mueller surmised. As the company is in the process of being acquired by Google, which will presumably boost the profile of Motorola's Android-based handsets and tablets, it will not want to lose ground to such a big rival in a key market.

The legal battle between Apple and other Android handset makers is set to become more intense and much of the processes could take place in Germany, Mueller said.

"Germany has become a key battleground because of the size of the market, the speed of the process, and due to the fact that infringement findings entitle patent holders to injunctive relief. The fact that hardly any smartphone-related claims have succeeded at the ITC in recent years has made US patent litigation dependent on federal courts. German courts move roughly twice as fast as the ITC, but the gap between them and US district courts is even wider," he said.


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