It looks like Apple won’t be making big bucks in Europe this holiday season.
The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany has just granted Motorola Mobility an injunction against all Apple products infringing one of its core cellular technology patents. This gives Motorola the right to immediately ask for a Europe-wide sales ban on the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the original iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G. The iPhone 4S probably includes the offending technology, too, so you can add that to the list as well. The reason why it’s not in the official list is because the lawsuit was filed back in April, when the 4S didn’t exist.
If Motorola Mobility decides to enforce the ban immediately, it will have to pay a $134 million bond — in case the verdict is overturned in appeal.
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.
Apple is certainly going to appeal this ruling to the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court and to request a stay for the duration of the appellate proceedings. Such a suspension may or may not be granted. If there’s no stay, Motorola will have to decide whether to bear the risk of enforcing a ruling that might be overturned later. Apple asked for a €2 billion ($2.7 billion) bond, but the court agreed with Motorola that a much lower amount — in this case, €100 million — was warranted.
Apple might also make efforts to procure a license to the patent-in-suit. Apple made an offer to Motorola to take a license on FRAND terms going forward, but, as I’ll explain further below, Motorola’s lawyers developed a theory that enabled them to reject Apple’s offer while fully preserving their client’s entitlement to injunctive relief according to the decision taken by the Mannheim court. Since the ruling adjudicated a new question of law, it’s of particular significance.
If you’re an European looking to stuff some socks with Apple shinies, buy them while you still can!
Below you’ll find a copy of the court ruling. You won’t understand any of it unless you speak both German and Legalese, though.Read More