A German court has approved an injunction launched by Motorola against Apple and its iOS devices over two patents it claims . However, due to a legal loophole, Apple may not be forced to stop the sales of the devices.
The legal loophole is due to the lawsuit by Motorola filing a suit on two companies: Apple Inc in California, and Apple Germany, its local subsidiary. According to The Verge, the company has been focused on its lawsuit against Apple Germany and left the Apple Inc lawsuit to lapse, forcing a default judgement by the court.
“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,” Apple said in a statement to The Verge.
“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,” Motorola said in a statement.
While some argue that the company’s victory is “symbolic” and doesn’t stop the sales of the iOS devices; FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller argues that it is indeed stronger than just symbolic. He points to the fact that Apple Inc is barred from “offering and/or delivering, on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, any mobile devices [practicing any of the patents-in-suit].” This includes shipping to Apple Germany, meaning new stock cannot be given to its German subsidiary.
In addition, Mueller says that all lawyers he contacted in Germany have said that:
All of the lawyers I talked to had consistent positions. In particular, all of them agree with me that the default judgment against Apple Inc. of Cupertino would have very near-term business impact unless Apple wins a suspension. They all agree that in one way or another, Apple’s German business also depends on Apple Inc. being unrestricted to do business in Germany. And they all concur that Apple is more likely than not to win a temporary suspension (for the period until a substantive decision following a second hearing by the same court). “More likely than not” is a conservative consensus position. An unnamed one of them told me he can’t imagine any other outcome.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow for Apple if it means that they cannot sell their devices to the German market – like Samsung, which they secured an injunction months before – especially when the company’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, is a huge success.
Both are currently engaged in lawsuits. Motorola sued Apple in 18 different countries in October, and several weeks later, Apple responded. Motorola argues that Apple violated two of its patents related to mobile technologies, while Apple’s countersuit argues that Motorola violated its multi-touch patents.