Apple Claims Potential Injunction Against iCloud Could Result in $2.7 Billion Loss

icloud icon textFOSS Patents reports that a pending court case in Germany could have significant ramifications for Apple, with a potential injunction shutting down the company's iCloud service there over infringement of a Motorola Mobility patent being pegged as a $2.7 billion risk to Apple.

In brief, Motorola asserted last year that Apple's MobileMe service infringes upon a Motorola patent related to data synchronization. Motorola amended the suit to include iCloud once that service was introduced later in the year. While an official ruling on an injunction isn't due until February, Motorola has already won an initial default judgement involving the patent and FOSS Patents reports that the presiding judge is not looking terribly favorably on Apple's defense so far.

The court doesn't appear to buy any of Apple's defenses at this stage. It may still change mind until the ruling, which is scheduled for February 3, 2012, 9 AM local time, but if it had had to rule today, I have no doubt that Apple would have lost.

If Motorola wins its case and an injunction is granted, Apple could be forced to pull all of its products in Germany that contain the infringing iCloud integration. It is typical in German courts to require winning parties to post bonds in order to guarantee repayment of lost income should the defendant win an appeal of the ruling, and Apple has asked that Motorola be required to post a 2 billion euro ($2.7 billion) bond in this case.

The court was wondering whether that hefty amount truly reflects the economic damages Apple would suffer from enforcement, given that the iCloud is only one Apple offering and doesn't correspond to the entire value of its products. But Apple's lawyers insisted that an enforcement against its product sales in Germany could result in damages of that magnitude.

The judge raised the possibility of Apple developing a workaround for iCloud to avoid infringing Motorola's patent, but Apple's lawyers pressed their case that the risk to Apple's business was indeed still severe.

Apple obviously has a vested interest in setting as high a bond as possible, forcing Motorola to put up a significant amount of money if it wishes to press forward with an injunction. The figure represents a substantial commitment on Motorola's part and makes clear that Apple will move to recover that money should an injunction be granted and later overturned, thus increasing Motorola's own risk in the proceedings. But while Apple may be artificially inflating its risk somewhat, it does still have to justify the figure to the court and is clearly working to do just that.

Top Rated Comments

flash84x Avatar
123 months ago
I'm so sick of this patent **** on every side. How the **** do you patent a process such as synchornization? I could possibly understand the methods used to acheive the synchornization, but the entire process itself? What the ****.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleScruff1 Avatar
123 months ago
Great to see Apple getting a taste of their own medicine. They will soon realize that companies like Motorola, Nokia, Microsoft have been in this a lot longer than they have, and likely have a ton of patents related to mobile technology that Apple infringes on.

Good points, and the truth. Apple has done as much copying and stealing as everyone they are suing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
something3153 Avatar
123 months ago


How does one patent cloud based synchronization? That seems like a patent that should have never been given out.

Does someone own corded charging? Browser integration? File downloading?

A grid of colorful icons?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shadowhawk2020 Avatar
123 months ago
How the **** can you have a patent on data syncronization? What am I missing here?

A law degree, and a long time studying patent law?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
something3153 Avatar
123 months ago
I haven't look far into this one yet but 'data synchronization'!? Really? A lot of these old patents handed out left and right by people who didn't really understand the technology. There are far too many technology patents that are far to generalized and over encompassing.

I'd say the same about most, if not all, of the patents Apple is throwing around.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tigger11 Avatar
123 months ago
Not likely

My point was that the lawsuit concerns data synchronization, which surely sounds like a software mechanism. If you have 2.7 billion euros, and use that to hire the best minds for this you can possibly find, can you then come up with a different, alternative data synchronization mechanism for less than 2.7 billion.

Given the simple nature of the patent, the probable answer is not really. The Patent was originally describing pagers, and shared data (wirelessly) between two pagers owned by the same person, so that appointments, contacts, etc would be shared from one device to another via wireless connectivity. The patent should never have been given, but if its accepted as a valid patent, I'm not sure its even possible to do what iCloud is supposed to do and not violate it unless you make them wired connection only. Every android phone and every blackberry for instance is "using" the patent as described as likely does the Windows phones. Any phone that pulls/shares its content with an email account on another computer is likely in violation of the patent.
-Tig
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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