Motorola Scores Win Against Apple in German Patent Case

By Joseph Mandour on December 12, 2011

cellphone-flip-isolated-in-white-200x148 Orange County – On December 9, 2011, a regional German court in Mannheim entered a preliminary injunction against Apple Inc. in Germany. The court ruled that Apple Sales International must stop selling, or distributing, mobile devices that infringe upon Motorola Mobility’s patents. The injunction applies specifically to Apple’s European sales subsidiary based in Cork, Ireland and applies only to sales of Apple products that use certain cellular communications patents – including the iPhone 4 and iPad 3G – to customers in Germany. However, the injunction does not apply to the iPhone 4S, since it was not yet on the market at the time the case was filed.

To enforce the injunction, Motorola Mobility will have to pay 100 million euros (approximately $134 million) as a bond, which would be used to repay Apple for lost sales if Motorola eventually loses the case. But at a November 18 hearing in a related patent infringement case, Apple stated that it could face much more – as much as 2 billion euros (about $2.7 billion) – in lost sales if the court rules in favor of Motorola Mobility.

Motorola Mobility filed this lawsuit in April, although Motorola claims that it has been trying to negotiate with Apple to offer “reasonable licensing terms and conditions” since 2007. The European patent at issue is #1010336, which was filed in 1998, and granted in March 2003 in Motorola’s favor. This patent has been declared an “essential component” of the wireless standard. It is licensed under the FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) rule, and working around the patents would likely be extremely difficult – perhaps impossible – for Apple.

Apple plans to file an appeal shortly, but doing so could take up to two years in the German court system. Apple also has other patent infringement cases pending in Germany, and it has publicly stated that it does not expect that shoppers in Germany will have any difficulty whatsoever finding the iPhone or iPad on store shelves.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement