Although the war will rage on for a few more years, Apple just scored a major victory in their legal war with Motorola Mobility in Germany. In December 2011 Apple lost a preliminary injunction with Motorola and faced the possibility of having their 3G-enabled products, like the iPad and iPhone, barred from Germany. However, a recent decision by the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court has ruled that Motorola can not enforce their injunction against Apple while the appeals process is underway, meaning Apple is free to sell their products in Germany until the appeal has been resolved.
FOSS Patents estimates the appeals case may take as long as a year or more, and Apple is no longer at risk of having its products removed from sale for anytime in the near future. In fact, the decision to prevent Motorola from enforcing the injunction might be a sign that the court thinks Apple will win the appeal.
While today’s decision is only a summary and preliminary decision that Motorola could overturn during the course of the full-blown appellate proceedings, this indicates that Apple’s appeal is highly likely to succeed — and even if it didn’t, Apple could realistically resolve the problem with limited additional concessions. The appeals court summarily held that Apple has made an amended proposal for taking a license to Motorola’s patents on FRAND terms that should be acceptable to Motorola, turning any further attempts to ban Apple’s iPhone and iPad products into a violation of applicable antitrust law.
The Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court already ordered a temporary suspension of enforcement of Motorola’s injunction earlier this month, but that was only meant to bide the court’s time while they evaluated the parties’ arguments related to Apple’s motion to suspend enforcement during the proceedings of the appellate.
The jist of the legal argument is that Motorola owns patents for 3G technologies essential for a company to use to meet standards of the technology. Motorola is required to licence the intellectual property under fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms. Apple has tried to make reasonable offers to license the technology, but Motorola has refused (because they would rather have Apple’s products banned).
This latest ruling shows Apple has convinced the German courts they have made sufficient efforts to license the technology from Motorola and any enforcement of the injunction by Motorola would be considered a breach of antitrust. Which if you remember the whole Microsoft Anti-Trust issue that started back in 1998, you’ll know that courts take it pretty seriously, but it takes FOREVER for antitrust proceedings to conclude.
[via FOSS Patents]