Motorola Mobility’s loss was Apple’s win on Thursday when a German court ruled that smartphone maker’s use of navigation features in its photo gallery app violates an Apple patent. The court approved an injunction that, should Apple chose to pay a bond to enforce it, could force Motorola to destroy unsold phones in the country.
Specifically, the court ruled that the page turning feature in Motorola Mobility’s smartphone photo gallery app stepped on Apple’s patents, but only when zoomed in on an image.
Apple wins injunction against Motorola in Germany
“If Apple enforces the ruling, it can even require Motorola to destroy any infringing products in its possession in Germany and recall, at MMI’s expense, any infringing products from German retailers in order to have them destroyed as well,” said Florian Mueller of Foss Patents.
Motorola could, however, work around a potential injunction by updating its software to change how users navigate through photo albums. If the company does, which seems likely, flipping through images in photo albums on Motorola’s Android-based phones would be more cumbersome — a change that wouldn’t bother Apple at all.
For its part, Motorola Mobility doesn’t see the ruling as problem for its smartphones.
“Today’s ruling in Munich, Germany on the patent litigation brought by Apple concerns a software feature associated with performing certain functions when viewing photos in a ‘zoomed in’ mode on mobile devices,” a Motorola spokesperson told The Mac Observer. “We note that the Court ruled that performing the functions in a ‘zoomed out’ mode does not infringe on this patent.”
She added that Motorola has already changed its photo viewing software, and that the company doesn’t expect to see any impact on sales.
Samsung faced a similar sales ban last summer thanks to a Dutch court ruling related to the same patents. In that case, Samsung changed its smartphone software to avoid an EU-wide injunction.
Motorola is also facing an injunction in Germany over Apple’s slide to unlock patent, and earlier this week a German appeals court ruled that Motorola can’t enforce its own patent-related injunction against the iPhone until Apple finishes its appeal process.
Apple hasn’t, however, said if it plans to pay the bond to enforce its injunctions, which means Motorola won’t have to recall its smartphones in Germany — at least for now.
[Updated with statement and additional information from Motorola Mobility.]