News: Motorola, Germans, Patents, & Apple

Posted on February 3, 2012

Another day, another chapter in the patent war between smartphone and tablet makers. This time, Apple pulled the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and 3G-equipped iPad 2 from its online store in Germany. This came after Motorola won a ruling in regards to synchronizing emailing accounts. For some reason, the 4S has not been taken down, possibly due to being excluded from the complaint.

As for the actual reason why this complaint was filed? It has to do with pagers:

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. won a second German patent ruling against Apple Inc. over its iCloud service allowing the company to block sales of devices including iPhone and iPad if they use the software that accesses it.

The Mannheim Regional Court found Apple infringed a patent used to synchronize e-mail accounts. The ruling also allows Motorola Mobility to ask Apple for information about past device sales and holds Apple liable for damages, Presiding Judge Andreas Voss said today.

“The court has come to the conclusion that the wording of the patent does cover functions that were at issue here,” said Voss. Apple “wasn’t able to convince the court that it isn’t infringing.”

Motorola Mobility, the mobile-phone maker now being acquired by Google Inc., won a first injunction in December it is now enforcing against Apple over claims a cellular- communications patent was infringed. Overnight, Apple removed some older iPhones and iPad models from its online store in Germany in response. Motorola Mobility has filed multiple suits against Apple in Germany and they are entangled in patent disputes in the U.S.

“Apple believes this old pager patent is invalid and we’re appealing the court’s decision,” company spokesman Alan Hely said.

Also, related, the push email feature of iCloud could be disabled as a result of the ruling.

Customers can still get an iPhone 3GS or 4 or 3G-equipped iPad 2 from Apple’s resellers and brick-and-mortar stores. Still, this is just showing why Google acquiring Motorola is really going to help the industry.

Update (2/3): AllThingsD is reporting that Apple’s full lineup will be available soon and the takedown was temporary:

In a statement given to AllThingsD, Apple confirmed that the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 3G/UMTS-based iPads should be returning to the shelves of its German online store in a matter of hours.

“All iPad and iPhone models will be back on sale through Apple’s online store in Germany shortly,” an Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD. “Apple appealed this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.”

Update (2/10): The Mac Observer is reporting that a German court ruled in favor of Apple on one of the patents. According to the court, Apple is still in violation of two of the patents.

This post has been filed in News