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In Germany, Motorola prevails in Apple patent suit, wins Europe-wide sales ban on iOS devices

UPDATE [Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:45am ET]: The article has been updated with statements from Motorola and Apple, found at the bottom.

Motorola Mobility this morning scored a major win in Germany as the Mannheim Regional Court ruled against Apple in one of the patent infringement lawsuit that the maker of the Razr phone filed against the Cupertino firm in April of this year. Interestingly, Motorola’s counsel Quinn Emanuel also beat Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Samsung products in the United States and is representing Motorola in an iCloud-related lawsuit which was filed on April Fools’ Day.

As part of the ruling, first reported by the FOSS Patents blog, Motorola won an injunction against Apple products that infringe on Motorola’s wireless patents, which includes the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the original iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G. The court decision follows a default judgment against Apple last month, scheduled to be discussed again in early February.

The ruling involves the European Patent 1010336 (B1) patent – the European equivalent of the U.S. Patent No. 6,359,898 – which covers a “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system” and was declared essential to the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) standard. This is the first “substantive ruling” as the injunction is “preliminarily enforceable” against Ireland-based Apple Sales International in exchange for a bond unless Apple wins a stay, FOSS Patents explains.

How can Apple fight back?

Of course, Apple will likely appeal to the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court as the ruling effectively paves the way to a Europe-wide ban on sales of Apple’s iOS devices, which would no doubt hurt Apple’s bottom line significantly. However, the ruling puts Apple on the defensive and the appeal poses a risky gamble as the court may not grant a suspension. FOSS Patents‘ patent blogger Florian Mueller outlined Apple’s options:

The ruling states that Apple could modify its products by removing the patented feature so as to steer clear of further infringement. It remains to be seen whether this is a commercially viable option for Apple. This feature could be somewhat fundamental to wireless data transfers in general.

Last month, Motorola won a formal injunction against Apple in Germany over two patents. Apple argued it’s set to lose $2.7 billion if judge sides with Motorola in that case, but the court approved a much lower bond totaling a hundred million euros, or approximately $134 million.

UPDATE: Motorola issued the following statement:

We are pleased with the court’s ruling. Today’s decision validates Motorola Mobility’s efforts to enforce its patents against Apple’s infringement,” said Scott Offer, senior vice president and general counsel of Motorola Mobility. “Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years to build an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio that is respected by the telecommunications industry, and we are proud to leverage this portfolio to create differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience. We will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our intellectual property, as the Company’s patent portfolio and licensing agreements with companies both in the U.S. and around the world are critical to our business. We have been negotiating with Apple and offering them reasonable licensing terms and conditions since 2007, and will continue our efforts to resolve our global patent dispute as soon as practicable.

A spokesperson for Apple said in a statement to AllThingsD:

We’re going to appeal the court’s ruling right away. Holiday shoppers in Germany should have no problem finding the iPad or iPhone they want.

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