Update: It appears that the ban has been lifted already
Apple lost its first significant patent battle today as it was forced to take 3G iPads and iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4’s off its virtual Apple Store shelves in Germany today.
The Mannheim Regional Court found Apple infringed a patent used to synchronize e-mail accounts. The ruling also allows Motorola Mobility to ask Apple for information about past sales and holds Apple liable for damages, Presiding Judge Andreas Voss said in delivering the ruling.
“The court has come to the conclusion that the wording of the patent does cover functioning that were at issue here,” said Voss. Apple “wasn’t able to convince the court that it isn’t infringing.”
The licenses at issue are supposedly “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” (FRAND) patents that are considered industry standards. This follows a previous ruling in Motorola’s favor at the end of last year. The court order is directed against Apple Sales International in Ireland, which operates the online store of Apple in Europe.
Perhaps not comical for German consumers (but certainly elsewhere) is that German courts have also banned a number of Samsung products, including its first stab at a tablet, based on Apple patent complaints. Soon their only option will be Motorola XOOMs😛.
The iPhone 4S, Apple’s current flagship device, remains on sale at the German Online Apple Store. It is not immediately certain why this device does not fit into Motorola’s complaint— maybe it is just too new and was not included as part of the original complaint. In addition, the 4S (and CDMA iPhone 4 and iPad 2) use Qualcomm chips while the banned devices use Infineon baseband, so it is possible Qualcomm has patents that indemnify its chips.
In a statement to Businessweek, Apple said:
“Apple believes this old pager patent is invalid and we’re appealing the courts decision,” company spokesman Alan Hely said in an e-mailed statement.
Apple told Paid Content:
While some iPad and iPhone models are not available through Apple’s online store in Germany right now, customers should have no problem finding them at one of our retail stores or an authorized reseller. Apple is appealing this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.
- Apple already selling unlocked, contract-free iPhone 4S in the United States (9to5mac.com)
- China Telecom says it will sell the iPhone 4S in a month (9to5mac.com)
- Patent wars: Motorola wins European sales injunction on Apple’s iOS devices (9to5google.com)
- Apple says it’s set to lose $2.7 billion if judge sides with Motorola in patent case (9to5google.com)
- In Germany, Motorola prevails in Apple patent suit, wins Europe-wide sales ban on iOS devices (9to5mac.com)