Apple halts "push" email services in Germany

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Apple halts "push" email services in Germany

Motorola wins injunction.

Apple has been forced to de-activate "push" email features for mobile users of its iCloud and MobileMe services in Germany following a court victory for rival Motorola Mobility.

Customers using the services -- which automatically informs users about new emails on iPhones, iPods or iPads -- will not be able to use them within the borders of Germany, Apple said on its support website for the country.

Users can partially get around the suspension by adjusting their settings so that devices download new email at regular intervals, it added.

The ruling, which can be appealed, did not appear to affect the push notification service that provides messages from first or third party apps.

Apple said its push email service on Mac deskops, laptops and the internet is not affected.

Apple and Motorola -- which Google is in the process of acquiring -- are engaged in global patent litigation as part of a broader legal fight over the smartphone market, with billions of dollars at stake.

A court in Mannheim three weeks ago granted a permanent injunction against the push email service of Apple's iCloud, and any devices that can access it.

According to patent expert Florian Mueller, Motorola sent Apple an enforcement letter demanding compliance with the patent injunction.

Mueller said on his widely watched blog FOSS Patents that the "Motorola patent at issue in that litigation harks back to the time of pagers, a predecessor of text messages".

"Apple believes this patent is invalid and is appealing the decision," the company said on the website.

The same court ruled in December that Apple Sales International -- the company's European sales subsidiary in Cork, Ireland -- must stop selling or distributing mobile devices that infringe upon certain Motorola cellular communications patents.

That forced Apple to briefly halt the sale of the iPhone 3G and 4 models and some iPads on its German online store. Apple was cleared to resume selling the older models via its online store on February 3.

(Reporting By Nicola Leske; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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