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Doubt cast over Apple's patent war with HTC, Samsung, Motorola

Case sways in favour of Android device makers when Apple’s patent infringement claim is questioned

Apple is suing Samsung, Motorola and HTC over a patent involving a multilingual alphabet function, but Tuesday's trials have thrown a spanner in the works.

Analyst Florien Mueller reported on his blog that the Mannheim Regional Court's preliminary assessment was that the patent, which covers the idea of storing a multilingual character set with language-specific sections for the purpose of text messaging, was "likely infringed but also very likely invalid."

But Mueller claims that HTC's lead counsel, Preu Bohlig's Dr. Peter Kather, highlighted a non-infringement theory, which means, "what used to be a pretty clear infringement case was cast in serious doubt."

"It became clear during the course of two and a half hours of discussion that Apple would need to rely on (and to persuade the court of) a fairly broad interpretation of a key term in the claims ("sections" of memory) in order to have at least a chance to prove infringement," Mueller reports.

Apple is waiting for the Federal Patent Court to rule whether the patent is valid, so the result of the trial was a stay, with the Mannheim court intending to hold a new trial with Apple and HTC within six months of affirmation from Federal Patent Court.

A second trial held on Tuesday with Motorola about the same patent revealed new developments. During the lunch break between the two trials, Apple's lawyers "identified a potential indication of an infringement" of the patent, Mueller reports.

Apple had not identified this in the trial previously because "they didn't know about the judge's understanding of the patent until the HTC trial."

Motorola opposed Apple's request to file a post-trial pleading relating to the new infringement indication, but Judge Dr. Kircher granted Apple's request.

Mueller reports that the Mannheim court will make a decision on Apple's patent infringement case against Motorola and Samsung on 22 June, and will likely result in a second trial.

Apple and Samsung are set to attend a settlement conference on a separate patent infringement case in the US.

Apple is also involved in a trial with angry parents are suing Apple over in-app purchase payments.

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