German Court Blocks Motorola from Enforcing Patents Against Apple

Motorola Mobility suffered a nasty blow in Germany on Monday when the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court ruled that the company can’t attempt to enforce its standards-essential patent injunction against Apple during the appeal process. That ruling essentially shuts down Motorola’s legal fight for what could be at least a year while Apple’s appeal goes before the court.

Motorola can't stop iPhone sales in GermanyMotorola can’t stop iPhone sales in Germany

“While today’s decision is only a summary and preliminary decision that [Motorola] could overturn during the course of the full-blown appellate proceedings, this indicates that Apple’s appeal is highly likely to succeed — and even if it didn’t, Apple could realistically resolve the problem with limited additional concessions,” said Florian Muller of Foss Patents.

Motorola won an injunction late last year that forced Apple to stop selling the iPhone 3 and 4, along with the iPad 2 with 3G online in Germany in early February. The injunction was, however, temporarily suspended only hours after Apple stopped sales in the country.

This new ruling ensures that the injunction can’t resume until the appeals process has been completed.

The new ruling is bad news for Google as well as Motorola Mobility because the Internet search giant is in the process of buying the company for its patent portfolio. Based on the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court’s ruling today, the potential value of Motorola’s patents may be diminished in the eyes of investors — and may help support the European Union’s antitrust investigation into how Motorola licenses patents.

Motorola also has a second injunction in place that went into effect last week forcing Apple to shut down its Push email service that alerts iCloud and MobileMe users to new messages without having to first launch the Mail app. That injunction is in effect only in Germany, so Push email services are still available to iPhone and iPad users outside of the country.