Apple skips defence in Motorola patent row

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Apple skips defence in Motorola patent row

Did it let one through for a bigger goal?

Motorola Mobility has secured an injunction against Apple over two patents that could be used to stop the sale of the iPad and iPhone in Germany.   

FOSS Patents' intellectual property watcher Florian Mueller posted the "default" judgment against Apple, which was made because Apple failed to meet a deadline to file its defence.

The decision means that Motorola could, if it chose to, prevent Apple from selling any of its mobile devices in Germany, according to Mueller.

Apple has not explained why it missed the deadline, but called the ruling a "procedural issue" that had nothing to do with the merits of the case.

It also claimed it will "not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany" for the time being. 

Motorola, which last week urged investors to accept Google's US$12.5 billion takeover offer, said it hoped to be able to “resolve the matter” so it could focus on innovation.

The two patents involved in this dispute cover a "method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system" and a "multiple pager status synchronisation system and method" respectively.

The first of these patents was decided in a US court to be a "standards essential" FRAND, according to Mueller, which would oblige the patent holder to license the technology on reasonable terms and may not be enough to warrant an injunction. 

"This is a very strange episode in the ongoing mobile patent wars, and without a doubt, this does potentially strengthen Motorola Mobility vis-à-vis Apple. Google will be very happy about that," said Mueller. 

One theory for why Apple put itself in this position was that it did not want to risk an unfavourable ruling on its FRAND defence to impact an upcoming European Commission investigation into Samsung's use of FRAND patents

The applicability of French laws that govern FRAND will also be debated in Samsung's Australian patent battle with Apple.

Apple plans to use this defence to trip up Samsung's bid to have the iPhone 4S pulled from Australian shelves.   

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