Apple Wins German Injunction Against Moto Android Devices

Apple vs. MotorolaApple has won a blanket injunction against Motorola’s Android devices in Germany, after a court in that country ruled the Motorola Mobility (MMI) was infringing on Apple’s so-called “slide-to-unlock” patent. Motorola has said that it won’t affect sales of its devices, but bypassing the injunction will require implementing a new way of unlocking its devices.

The ruling was first reported by FOSS Patents, where Florian Mueller said that Judge Dr. Peter Guntz ruled that Motorola Mobility’s Android-powered smartphones violated European Patent EP1964022. That patent is usually called the swipe-to-unlock patent because it covers having touch interface devices use a swiping motion to unlock their devices. Apple has a similar patent in the U.S. covering the same concept.

Judge Dr. Peter Guntz (we’re repeating his name because we think it’s entertaining to say “Judge Dr.”) was judging Motorola Mobility’s devices on three different embodiments, two involving smartphones and the third involving tablets. The judge ruled that MMI was infringing on the first two embodiments of the patent, but not the third.

That leaves MMI’s poor-selling Xoom tablets safe to continue with the unlocking method implemented for them, which is different from the method used on the company’s smartphones. Motorola can appeal the ruling—and it has—but Apple can also appeal on the third embodiment, too.

Interestingly, for those of us in the U.S., Apple won the injunction, but it will have to put up a bond to actually enforce said injunction. That’s a process in place in Germany to protect companies that lose business on an injunction that then gets overturned. The reality, however, is that while MMI is appealing the ruling, the BBC reported that the company already said it has, “implemented a new design for the feature. Therefore, we expect no impact on current supply or future sales.”

Florian Mueller opined that this will lessen the user experience for MMI’s Android devices, which is really what Apple wants in the first place. The company believes that it invented the concept of swiping to unlock, and that Android device makers who have copied Apple’s method are doing so at Apple’s expense. Judge Dr. Peter Guntz apparently believes so, too.

Apple is asserting the same patent against Samsung in Germany, and it already lost a similar case against Samsung in a Dutch court. That court ruled that Apple’s invention was trivial, and therefore the patent was invalid.