Apple Wins Preliminary Sales Ban On Motorola Phones In Germany
September 14, 2012

Apple Wins Preliminary Sales Ban On Motorola Phones In Germany

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Apple has just been handed yet another significant victory in their global court battles with Android smartphone manufacturers.

Yesterday, a German court ruled in favor of the iPhone maker, saying Google´s very own Motorola Mobility violated the “over scroll bounce” patent. More commonly referred to as the “rubber band” patent, this iPhone feature was also the center of contention during the Samsung trials and allows screens and pages on a smartphone to bounce or be stretched past their boundaries rather than hitting a stagnant, concrete wall. As a result of this court case, Apple has now won a preliminary sales ban on Motorola Smartphones and tablets in Germany.

Though Apple can now enforce a permanent ban on Motorola phones and tablets in Germany, these bans are subject to a $25 million bond posted by Apple and will also be appealable. According to Florian Mueller, writing for Foss Patents, Apple will “undoubtedly” pay out to enforce the bans, which include phones such as the Motorola Milestone XT720, the Motorola Atrix and the Motorola XOOM tablet.

While they still have the option of an appeal, Motorola could also avoid the bans by removing the rubber band scrolling in the guilty products. The stock version of Android, for instance, uses a glow effect at the top and bottom of the screens, depending on where a user is scrolling.

Mueller also writes in his blog that the German court has given Apple the option to increase the breadth of this ruling if they are willing to pay out an additional $26 million or so. For $13 million, Apple can have the court force a recall of each Motorola device which is found to be infringing upon the rubber band patent. For another $13 million paid out by Apple, the German courts will order Motorola to gather up these infringing devices and destroy them. According to Stefanie Ruhwinkel, a spokesperson for the Munich Court, Apple could pay to have these devices destroyed “to make sure they won't be sold again.”

German Motorola fans won´t have the officials come and pry their devices from their hands, however, as Ruhwinkel told PCWorld, “They are not convicted, Motorola is.”

Motorola was also ordered to pay Apple damages for past infringement, though the Google-owned company is expected to appeal this decision to the Munich Higher Regional Court. While there, Motorola also plans to argue that this rubber band patent is invalid and, therefore, should be revoked by the European Patent Office.

Judge Dr. Guntz, who presided over this case, has not ruled out the possibility of having the patent revoked. However, according to Mueller, Motorola failed to prove to the Munich court that the patent is at least 80% invalid.

Though Apple has found victory in court under this judge, they did suffer a loss to Motorola under a different judge much earlier in the year.

In February, a Mannheim court issued a temporary ban on iPhones 3G, 3GS and 4 as well as any 3G iPad model for violating a Motorola 3G patent.

Speaking to the now common nature of these types of suits and hearings, Mueller writes: “For a passionate patent litigation watcher, these complex relationships between different decisions made by different panels of the same court, or different courts in the same country, or courts in different countries, are truly fascinating.”

“But for most people,” Mueller continues, “the worldwide smartphone patent wars are confusing enough, and probably a bit too confusing in a case like this. However, there can be no confusion about the fact that Google is losing the smartphone patent war in the United States and in Europe. That's simply a fact that no reasonable person can deny when looking at the decisions that came down on both sides of the Atlantic.”