German Court: Moto, Samsung Aren't Violating Apple Touch Patent

The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany ruled on Friday that Motorola and Samsung aren't infringing on an Apple-owned touch event patent. The patent in question, EP2098948, covers system-wide touch recognition and how gestures are relayed to applications, and has already led to the same ruling in other European courts.

Court says Motorola, Samsung aren't infringing on Apple touch patentCourt says Motorola, Samsung aren't infringing on Apple touch patent

"The ruling comes as no surprise given the skepticism the court expressed at the related trials," Florian Mueller of Foss Patents said. Apple filed separate cases against each company, and the court chose to announce its rulings in both at the same time.

Key to the court's decision was a ruling that Android, the operating system Motorola and Samsung are using on some of their smartphones, doesn't use what Apple called a multi-touch flag in code for individual interface elements. Courts in the Netherlands and the U.K. have already issued similar rulings.

While the ruling is good news for Motorola, Samsung, and ultimately Google, it isn't necessarily bad news for Apple.

Mr. Mueller said,

In these fights someone's successful defense against a particular patent infringement action is a non-defeat for that party and a non-win for the patent holder, but it's not a victory or a loss in strategic terms since there are numerous lawsuits going on. What really gives someone leverage is the ability to win enforceable injunctions based on patents having enough technical scope to be hard to work around without some degradation of the user experience.

Earlier this month Motorola lost in a significant way when the Munich I Regional Court ruled that its Android-based smartphones were infringing on Apple's Over Scroll Bounce, or rubber band effect, patent. In that case, Apple can seek an injunction and potentially even win a court order forcing Motorola to destroy any products that infringe on the patent.

Apple is expected to appeal the Mannheim court's ruling, although the company has not commented on the case.