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Motorola Eyeing New Phone Unlocking Method After Losing Patent Case To Apple

February 18, 2012

For the first time in any part of the world, Apple has won a patent verdict in their dispute against Motorola Mobility, as a German court ruled that select Motorola phones featuring “slide-to-unlock” functionality infringed upon the iPhone and iPad manufacturer’s intellectual property.

According to Peter Pachal of Mashable.com, the Munich regional court handed down a pair of verdicts in Apple’s favor, declaring that certain Motorola products “infringed on the German part of a broader European patent.”

Pachal reported that the phones affected by the ruling include the Motorola Flipout, Milestone, Milestone XT720 and Defy, and that Apple could in theory move to have the sale of those devices blocked in Germany.

Apple declined a BBC News request to comment on the ruling, but patent consultant Florian Mueller told the British news organization that the ruling could have an impact on similar patent disputes involving Android device manufacturers.

However, Motorola told the BBC that they planned to appeal, and added that the ruling would have “no impact” on future sales because the company was planning to roll out a new phone unlocking system that would not infringe upon their rival’s intellectual property.

That system could be tied to a patent which Google filed for back in 2010, according to Don Reisinger of CNET. Google, who is in the process of acquiring Motorola Mobility for a reported $12.5 billion, applied for a patent which described a way in which smartphone or PC users could unlock the device and perform a minimum of one command.

Those commands could range from opening a software application to placing a phone call, and that added functionality “might be Google’s way of securing this patent,” Reisinger said.

The patent was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, and that publication “is a key step in Google acquiring the patent, since it establishes full prior art for any other patent applications that might pop up worldwide,” he added.

“We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with,” a Google spokesperson told CNET via e-mail. “Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.”

Earlier this month, Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, using four recently granted patents in pursuit of a preliminary injunction against sales of the company’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

According to Daniel Eran Dilger of AppleInsider, that case centered around four specific patents: “the Data Detectors patent Apple successfully used to win an ITC injunction against HTC: U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 ‘System and Method for Performing an Action on a Structure in Computer-Generated Data’ “¦ U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 ‘Universal Interface for Retrieval of Information in a Computer System’ “¦ U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721 ‘Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image’ “¦ [and] U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172 “Method, System, and Graphical User Interface for Providing Word Recommendations.’”

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Source: RedOrbit Staff & Wire Reports



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