Ban on Push iCloud Email Upheld in Germany as Fight over 3G Devices Continues

icloudiconBack in February, Apple announced that it was suspending push functionality for iCloud and MobileMe email users in Germany following a victory by Motorola Mobility in a patent lawsuit. As noted by Dow Jones Newswires, an appeals court has upheld that ruling, requiring that Apple continue to refrain from offering push email in the country and that the company pay unspecified damages to Motorola.

The Mannheim regional court backed an earlier court decision that banned Apple from offering the service for synchronizing emails on devices in a patent proceeding brought by Motorola Mobility.

The court said Apple must pay damages to Motorola Mobility, but didn't specify the amount.

FOSS Patents notes that the decision is not unexpected given the history of the case, which has seen several previous decisions as the claims against Apple itself and its Irish subsidiary Apple Sales International were split and adjudicated separately.

The report also notes that Motorola continues to push for a ban on 3G-enabled Apple products in Germany. Under an earlier ruling, Apple was forced to briefly pull all 3G-capable products with the exception of the iPhone 4S from its German online store, although they were restored a few hours later and a follow-up decision a few weeks later offered Apple extended protection from enforcement of a ban while it appeals the original decision.

Motorola is currently the subject of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission over its use of the standard-essential patent in question in attempting to bar sales of Apple's products. But the company continues to press forward with its claims that Apple's licensing offers have not been adequate and its efforts to have Apple's products barred from sale over the issue.

Top Rated Comments

Feed Me Avatar
118 months ago
I'd hate Motorola right now if I was a German iOS user.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgwalsh Avatar
118 months ago
I don't hate motorola, android or apple. I hate these silly technology patents. Too many and none unique. Imagine the barrier this puts on any small company wanting to enter the market. This is what stifles innovation.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kntgsp Avatar
118 months ago
Screw it !!!

Just BAN iPhone in Germany. That way no one whines and bitches over there.

That is one of the dumbest posts I've seen on MR in a long time.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tarzanman Avatar
118 months ago
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Motorola sue Apple first? How did Apple pick that fight?

I find it funny that in the first couple of years after the initial iPhone release Apple became the most sued company in mobile, yet I never saw anyone that says these sort of comments shedding a tear for Apple then.
Apple was sued by Motorola (and Nokia, i think) for failing to pay royalties on WCDMA technology that all UMTS 3G phones use.

Unlike the current litigation, it wasn't a case of Motorola or Nokia trying to stop Apple from selling phones (via injunction) or harm Apple financially (with exorbitant costs). The heart of the matter were 3G patents that every phone manufacturer had to license because the technology was part of the UMTS 3G specification. Motorola and Nokia wanted money that everyone else had agreed to pay, not for Apple to stop selling devices.

Apple did not like the terms of the licensing, so they stalled payment (as in, didn't pay at all). Stalling payment was just a tactic because ultimate payment was inevitable. Motorola and Nokia manufacture ~90% of the cell network infrastructure that UMTS carriers use. It would not be a big stretch to call them co-inventors of 3G. What Apple tried would be exactly like you trying to manufacture a DVD player and not pay royalties to the DVD consortium or owners of the MPEG-2 codec.

The current litigation is different. Apple's lawsuits are aimed at slowing down or stopping the proliferation of hardware running Android, which they see as a direct competitor/threat to iOS. Notice that they have chosen German courts as the battleground and asked for *injunctions* barring the sale of these products, not compensation or licensing agreements. They have also chosen a set of relatively weak patents (bounce back on an image gallery, really?) or the notorious "community design" specifications as a basis for their lawsuits.

They chose Germany because these same suits would not have survived more than 2 rounds anywhere else in the world. Apple can't slow Google down because Google only makes software (and google is damned good at software). Instead, Android's top 3 selling manufacturers (Samsung, Motorola, HTC) are the targets. The fact that Apple hasn't messed with Nokia, HP, or RIM (HP and RIM make tablet too) is a pretty clear indicator as to what their intentions are.

Returning to the topic at hand, Motorola and Samsung and HTC (to varying degrees) are responding as best they can. Samsung is fighting in South Korea because their courts will almost certainly be more friendly to them than to Apple, and Motorola is using their cell phone technology IP to pressure Apple back as best they can.... which is why they asked for an injunction this time instead of offering Apple licensing terms.

You might find it distasteful, but Apple's lawsuits are very much Jobs' legacy of wanting to attack/limit/contain Android even if it only meant slowing it down a little bit in the courts. I repeat, they picked this fight.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
EssentialParado Avatar
118 months ago
why Germany and not any other country?
This is an issue over a FRAND patent, which is something essential to the industry and is required by law to be licensed to competitors under fair and reasonable terms. Most courts will not ban products that use FRAND technology. German courts, however, will. Which is why Motorola filed the suit there.

Motorola are asking competitors (in this case Apple, in other cases Microsoft) to pay substantially larger royalties than is usual under FRAND patent law (sometimes 500-1000 times higher). This is why the EU (which includes Germany) have launched an investigation into Motorola. The German courts didn't appear to take this investigation into consideration with their decision.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LaWally Avatar
118 months ago
In the drug business, patents give drug companies exclusive rights for 20 years, but their effective length is usually 7-12 years as they start before clinical trials and not after FDA approval.

Something similar, but more aggressive for tech industry patents is an interesting idea.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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