updated 10:15 pm EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Munich says Apple patent may be invalid
A Munich court at least temporarily adjourned an Apple lawsuit against Motorola on Thursday after doubting whether the German case should go ahead. While Judge Peter Guntz believed that the Motorola Gleam did violate an Apple computing patent as it existed, he was concerned that the Apple patent itself was invalid. He wanted a simultaneous case determining the legitimacy of the patent to settle the matter before the lawsuit went any further.
The patent is rare among Apple's disputes with Android makers in having nothing directly to do with the iPhone. Dating from 2002, the technique for an "active enclosure for computing device" was considered relatively weak. Motorola was due to present a 1997 Ericsson patent on a visual alarm that risked invalidating Apple's claim.
An adjournment prevents Apple from getting an injunction banning the Gleam and related products unless the patent is validated. Neither Apple nor Motorola has had trouble getting wins elsewhere in Germany, such as Motorola forcing the withdrawal of iCloud and Apple winning a determination against Motorola over a photo gallery patent. When Apple has struggled, however, it has usually been through rulings of non-infringement, not invalidation.
Apple and Motorola have been engaged in mutual lawsuits hoping to force the other to agree to a settlement rather than risk lost sales. Motorola may have sabotaged its own chance at such a deal by asking to license every Apple patent in return for granting Apple only a license to 3G standards patents. The request itself may have been an abuse of rules around licensing standards based on FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms. [via Florian Mueller]