On Friday last week, Motorola Mobility won an injunction against Apple in Germany. A German court, in a default judgement, barred Apple Inc. from selling any of its mobile products that infringe two Motorola Mobility patents.
Although at first this may seem like a huge blow to Apple, it doesn’t immediately translate into any sort of ban on Apple products in Germany.
Motorola Mobility filed two separate cases against Apple, one against the global parent company Apple Inc., and the other against its German subsidiary Apple GmbH. Apple’s German subsidiary is fighting the case, while Apple chose to let the case against Apple Inc. slide.
Since Apple products are sold in Germany through Apple GmbH and not Apple Inc., the injunction won’t result in any ban immediately. Apple’s statement in response to the judgement said the same thing:
“This is a procedural issue and has nothing to do with the merits of the case. It does not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany at this time.”
Motorola Mobility had this to say on the default judgement:
“As media and mobility continue to converge, Motorola Mobility’s patented technologies are increasingly important for innovation within the wireless and communications industries, for which Motorola Mobility has developed an industry leading intellectual property portfolio. We will continue to assert ourselves in the protection of these assets, while also ensuring that our technologies are widely available to end-users. We hope that we are able to resolve this matter, so we can focus on creating great innovations that benefit the industry.”
There is some confusion as to whether the injunction against the parent company has any affect over product sales, if not in the short term, then some time in the future. While The Verge’s Nilay Patel says the victory is nothing more than symbolic, FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller argues that the injunction could have an affect on Apple’s operations in Germany:
(the court) could even seize Apple’s apple.de domain, which belongs to Cupertino but is registered in Germany, if all else failed.
The injunction doesn’t allow Apple Inc. to “deliver” any goods to Germany. That would include shipments to Apple GmbH.
Apple will nonetheless file an appeal to suspend the injunction, which most German lawyers believe Apple would be successful in.
There would be two more hearings in the Motorola-Apple case in Germany, scheduled for November 18 and December 2.
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