Apple has been dealt their first major blow in the patent fight against Android OS after a German court banned sale of Apple products. The decision was handed down in a case involving Apple and Motorola Mobility, now owned by Android creator Google, who claim its iOS rival infringed on company owned patents, by a judge in Mannheim District Court on Friday.

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The Judge granted Motorola a temporary injunction against the sale of Apple products which infringe on the patents Motorola, and ordered it to pay damages for patents infringements since April 19, 2003.

Moto claim Apple infringed on two mobile technology patents – relating to the transfer for a packet radio system and another involving multiple pager status synchronization system.

However, Cupertino firmly deny any infringement took place saying they are industry standard patents and Motorola’s claims will “harm or eliminate competition” and are simply an attempt by Google to gain a monopoly in the mobile industry.

The decision followed Apple’s failure to defend itself in court on several issues, highly unusual for a billion dollar company.

Pyrrhic victory?

However patents expert, Florian Mueller, believes the case could be part of a grand strategic plan Apple has hidden up its sleeve:

“A company with Apple’s quality and quantity of resources is less likely to fail to defend itself properly than to make a default judgment part of some tactical plan, and a default judgment can be reversed with substantive arguments,” Mueller believes.

Apple has denied this will affect its ability to sell in Germany, Europe’s biggest market.

“This is a procedural issue that has nothing to do with the merits of the case. This does not affect our ability to sell products or do business in Germany at this time.”

Whether this is really a victory for Android in its global battle against Apple, who have been granted an injunction against the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 here in Australia (and Germany) remains to be seen, but it is the first major ruling in its favour.

Apple are currently involved in patent batttles with Android carriers Moto, Samsung and HTC.

Samsung believe the German ruling will have a ‘positive impact’ on its ongoing litigation against its rival.

“We’re also continuously pushing to put intellectual property claims against Apple on patents related to wireless technologies and we believe this ruling will have a positive impact on us as well,” a Samsung official said.


And Apple are almost certain to apply for an appeal and is “fairly likely” to get the injunction suspended, but if it fails to do so the business impact could be devastating. 

Here’s what Motorola told Mueller’s Foss Patents blog:

“As media and mobility continue to converge, Motorola Mobility’s patented technologies are increasingly important for innovation within the wireless and communications industries, for which Motorola Mobility has developed an industry leading intellectual property portfolio.”

“We will continue to assert ourselves in the protection of these assets, while also ensuring that our technologies are widely available to end-users. We hope that we are able to resolve this matter, so we can focus on creating great innovations that benefit the industry.”

But this was not the first loss before European courts the Cupertino giant had last week – a Spanish judge also ruled a small Valencia tablet maker, NT-K, had not infriged on iPad patents, winning its appeal against a ban imposed on the import of its Chinese made tablets in 2010.

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