Germany’s top civil court today has ruled against Apple in a case pertaining to the company’s swipe-to-unlock input method. Judges in the case explained that swipe-to-unlock is not sophisticated enough to be awarded patent protection. This ruling falls in line with a similar ruling that favored Motorola back in 2013 (via Bloomberg).
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Swipe-to-unlock was not an invention by Apple, the court claims, seeing that it was already suggested by “the state of the art.” The court wrote the following:
“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art. The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”
In 2012, Apple was able to secure an injunction in Germany against Motorola on the grounds that its use of the Android unlock method violated its swipe-to-unlock patent. This case is still pending on appeal, but with today’s ruling, it should now progress forward in favor of Motorola.
Apple’s swipe-to-unlock patent has been the backbone of many of its legal battles with Android manufacturers. Samsung, Apple’s infamous legal foe, was found guilty of infringing on the patent in May of 2014. That ruling has since been the subject of quite a bit of criticism, with many claiming that Apple did not suffer “irreparable harm” from Samsung’s use of the swipe-to-unlock input method.
With today’s Germany ruling, more doubt will likely be cast on the validity of Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent. But what effect that doubt will have on the legal cases remains to be seen.