EU Commission says Motorola’s injunction against Apple in Germany amounts to abuse, prohibited by antitrust law

European-CommissionAs if we needed someone to tell us that the ongoing patent lawsuits between Apple and Motorola in Germany were getting a little out of control… Today the European Commission has finally stepped up calling Motorola’s enforcement of an injunction against Apple with mobile standard essential patents “abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules.” The EU Commission, however, does note that the statement of objections sent to Motorola does not reflect the final outcome of its investigation into its use of standard essential patents (SEPs):

The Motorola Mobility SEPs in question relate to the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute’s (ETSI) GPRS standard, part of the GSM standard, which is a key industry standard for mobile and wireless communications. When this standard was adopted in Europe, Motorola Mobility gave a commitment that it would license the patents which it had declared essential to the standard on FRAND terms. Nevertheless, Motorola Mobility sought an injunction against Apple in Germany on the basis of a GPRS SEP and, after the injunction was granted, went on to enforce it, even when Apple had declared that it would be willing to be bound by a determination of the FRAND royalties by the German court.

The EU Commission essentially states that Apple should be able to license the technology under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms decided by a third-party, and that Motorola’s approach with its latest injunction could “distort licensing negotiations and impose unjustified licensing terms.” Back in February of 2012, Apple was for a short while forced to remove all 3G devices from its online store in Germany following the injunction, and at the time Apple noted that “Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.” Read more

Apple in court: Samsung infringes key text-selection patent, anti-poaching class action blocked, slide to unlock invalidated in Germany

Text-selectionApple’s decision to disable VPN on demand functionality on iOS due to the virnetX lawsuit isn’t the only patent related Apple news today. Head below for a roundup of Apple’s court woes and wins from earlier today:

Samsung infringes key text-selection patent: Reuters reports that the International Trade Commission has handed down a preliminary decision ruling Samsung infringed on an Apple patent related to a text-selection feature. However, the courts also ruled Samsung didn’t infringe another patent related to detecting when other devices are plugged into a microphone jack. If the text-selection decision is upheld, the result could be a U.S. import ban on Galaxy, Transform, and Nexus devices: Read more

Served: Apple complies with UK court order, adds Apple’s iPad ‘design is cool’ (and also Samsung didn’t copy) to website

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Last week, Apple lost an appeal in the U.K. that forced Apple to apologize to Samsung publicly and state that its Galaxy Tab does not infringe on Apple’s patents.

Britain Court of Appeal upheld a previous ruling that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab does not infringe on the iPad’s patents because it is not “as cool.” Reuters reported that after losing the appeal this morning, Apple has been instructed by the court to apologize to Samsung by running ads on its website and in newspapers saying Samsung did not infringe on patents in at least Arial 14 font.

Hidden at the bottom of Apple’s U.K. website this morning is the required link to the apology, but the apology is more like one your big sister would give you after being reprimanded by your parents. After mentioning Samsung did not infringe, Apple nicely sliced out some complimentary quotes from the ruling:

“The extreme simplicity of the Apple design is striking. Overall it has undecorated flat surfaces with a plate of glass on the front all the way out to a very thin rim and a blank back. There is a crisp edge around the rim and a combination of curves, both at the corners and the sides. The design looks like an object the informed user would want to pick up and hold. It is an understated, smooth and simple product. It is a cool design.”

Apple goes on to say German and U.S. courts ruled otherwise.

However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.

So there! Read more

Apps & updates: Pixelmator, Amazon Cloud Player, Reeder, Dropbox, more

We already told you about some big app news today with an updated Twitter iOS client and the release of popular MMO Guild Wars 2 for Mac. Below is the rest of the notable apps and updates hitting the App Store today:

Pixelmator version 2.1.1: A big update today goes to version 2.1.1 of the Pixelmator Mac App Store app. The updated app includes a new Healing Tool that’s up to 20x faster than the previous version, UI improvements for Retina MacBooks, and a number of fixes and performance enhancements. A full list of changes is here.

We are bursting with pride to tell you that this is the best and the fastest Healing Tool in the world. Pretty sophisticated algorithms and the latest OS X technologies have allowed us to create a tool that performs at an incredible speed. We hope you’ll be as excited about it as we are… A lot of other good things are here, too: the ability to temporarily hide the Alignment Guides with the Command key, significant performance improvements, the effects you’ve missed, and much more.

Amazon Cloud Player version 1.2.4: Amazon updated its Cloud Player app for iOS today, which allows users to stream and download music from their Amazon Cloud account. The biggest news in the update is that Cloud Player is now available in the UK, Germany, and France. Amazon is also introducing support for French and German languages.

Reeder version 3.0.4: The iOS Fever, Readability, and Google Reader client was updated today with a few new features. Included is enhancements bringing full support for iPhone 5 and iOS 6. The update means Facebook sharing becomes an iOS 6 only feature after updating. The developers have also included a fix for issues with Fever syncing and missing folders.
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German judge upholds ban on Apple push email, Apple must pay damages to Motorola Mobility

Apple suffered a significant blow in the ongoing patent battles with Android competitors today when a Mannheim regional court in Germany ruled against an Apple appeal.

The court backed an earlier decision that banned Apple from offering the service for synchronizing emails on Apple’s mobile devices that use iCloud.

The court said Apple must pay damages to Motorola Mobility, but didn’t specify the amount.

The judge adjourned a decision on mobile communication standards, which Motorola Mobility regards as standard-essential. He didn’t say when the court will rule on this patent case.

Thermonuclear. Read more

Upcoming Apple Stores: Germany, Spain, Australia, and France’s Burgundy wine region

We already knew from Apple’s 10-K report in October that the company planned to spend approximately $900 million on retail stores during 2012. The investment would account for the opening of roughly 40 new locations throughout the year. At least some of that investment will be going toward three new stores in Germany, one in the northwest region of Spain, and others in Australia and France’s Burgundy wine region.

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Consumer groups in 10 more EU countries seeking alterations to AppleCare

We reported several times about Italian anti-trust authorities fining Apple $1.2 million for “misleading consumers” in relation to AppleCare warranties. The decision made by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato stated Apple’s 1-year AppleCare warranties were failing to inform consumers of a mandatory warranty of two years imposed by European Union law. Today we heard confirmation from Bloomberg that not just Italy, but consumer groups from 11 countries, requested that Apple make changes to its AppleCare policies and immediately halt its current “practices on the guarantees.”

Apple products say they come with a one-year warranty when European Union law requires manufacturers cover goods for two years, consumer groups in 11 countries, including Italy and Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The groups said they sent letters to national regulators seeking an immediate halt to Apple’s practices on the guarantees

The letter sent by consumer groups comes two days before Apple is set to appeal the $1.2 million fine imposed by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato on March 21. Apple already published the initial anti-trust decision on its website, but the group is asking Apple to also alter its warranty policies and publish a notice to consumers about the changes it made on Apple.com.
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Apple disables iCloud and MobileMe push email in Germany due to patent fight with Motorola

Apple informed customers in Germany that push email on both MobileMe and iCloud services were disabled due to the company’s patent fight with handset maker Motorola Mobility. According to a support document Apple quietly published today, “Due to recent patent litigation by Motorola Mobility, iCloud and MobileMe users are currently unable to have iCloud and MobileMe email pushed to their iOS devices while located within the borders of Germany.”

Push still works for Contacts, Calendars and other items and it is unaffected on OS X. Moreover, the affected users can still access the iCloud/MobileMe email service by manually checking for messages or using the Fetch setting. Apple also wrote the following line in the support document:

Apple believes Motorola’s patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.

As you will recall, Motorola filed an iCloud-related lawsuit on April Fools’ Day. It recently won an injunction and provided a €100 million bond to enforce it. Apple detailed how the patent suit affects the iCloud/MobileMe email service:

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Apple’s Time Capsules go missing from retail stores globally

Shipping times for Time Capsules are increasing steadily across regional online Apple stores in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France and other territories. While the 3TB version of Time Capsule is in stock at certain online Apple Stores, most now list the wireless backup appliance with up to one to three weeks delivery time. Meanwhile, 2TB Time Capsules in some stores take one to two weeks. Over at Amazon (temporarily out of stock) and Best Buy (sold out) things are not looking peachy either.

This is similar to the AppleTV shortages we noted over the weekend but may not be for the same reason.

Time Capsule constrains could be linked to the Thai floods that have led to global shortages of hard drives and subsequent jacked prices by as much as 28 percent. A disruption in the hard drive supply already affected the 27-inch iMac. That, plus the fact that other AirPort-branded products stay in stock only reinforce the notion that constrained supplies of Apple’s Time Capsule is likely caused by global hard drive shortages.

According to an unnamed tip that 9to5Mac received this morning, several Apple outlets in Australia no longer have Time Capsules in stock:

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Apple sues Motorola in the U.S. over Qualcomm patent license

Apple, today, has filed a lawsuit against Motorola over their use of Qualcomm technology, as reported by Reuters. Apple explains that Motorola has breached a contract pertaining to their use of a patent license and “asks this Court to enjoin Motorola from prosecuting and 4 enforcing its claims against Apple in Germany.”

Specifically, Apple is suing Motorola over their claims that Apple is illegally using Qualcomm’s baseband chip. In its lawsuit, Apple asks the court to ban Motorola from being able to sue Apple over Apple’s use of Qualcomm’s technology:

Permanent injunctive relief restraining Motorola and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, agents, employees, servants, licensors, successors, assigns, and all those acting in concert with them, from prosecuting patent infringement proceedings against Apple based on Apple’s use of the Qualcomm MDM6610 chip and other Qualcomm components licensed under Motorola patents in any forum other than this Court

The root of the lawsuit is essentially Apple’s strike-back at Motorola for attempting to stop sales of Apple’s 3G products in Germany. The lawsuit’s referencing of Qualcomm’s chips is a nod to the iPhone 4S, which uses a Qualcomm baseband chip, not being removed for that short amount of time when Apple won a temporary injunction of Apple’s 3G products in Germany.

The full lawsuit filing can be viewed here.

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That was fast: German ban on Apple 3G products lifted due to FRAND status of patents

Update: 8PM ET: Apple has updated the store and all 3G devices are again available.

Just this morning Apple was dealt a patent blow by a German court that ruled Apple’s 3G products outside of the iPhone 4S were in violation of Motorola patents. The “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” (FRAND) nature of the patents means Apple should be able to purchase licensing rights to those patents at market rates (i.e. what Nokia, Samsung, and others pay). According to Apple, Motorola has not offered those types of terms.

Fast forward to a few minutes ago: Apple stated the 3G devices in question would be back on sale “shortly”…

Slashgear reported:

Apple has been granted a suspension of the German injunction against 3G-enabled iOS devices, with the iPad WiFi + 3G, iPhone 4 and other gadgets back on sale through the company’s online store. ”All iPad and iPhone models will be back on sale through Apple’s online store in Germany shortly” the company told us in a statement. “Apple appealed 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.”

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For many, issues watching YouTube on Apple TV

Owners of the Apple TV set-top box around the world took to Twitter to complain about an unknown issue affecting the device’s ability to stream YouTube clips through the Internet section of the main menu. According to reports, attempting to play any YouTube clip produces this error message:

No content was found. There is a problem communicating with YouTube. Try again later.

It would appear that some sort of backend issue is to blame, but it is inconclusive. The problem persisted since the past couple days; with a bunch of posts over at the Apple Support Communities indicating it is widespread. One poster claimed an Apple representative advised him to contact Google because this is “a YouTube issue.”

It seems to be particularly bad in Japan, Australia, Canada and various European countries, including the United Kingdom, Scotland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, Denmark, Romania, Argentina and Croatia.

Not all users in the United States seem to be experiencing this issue, although some do. Resetting a router or the device will not help. Likewise, performing a factory restore to the latest 4.4.4 firmware did not do the trick for another poster. Some users are only able to see the videos in their History. Are you having same issues with your Apple TV? We would love to hear from you in the comments.


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