Motorola Mobility wins German patent suit against Apple, overcomes FRAND defense

“At 9 AM today, the Mannheim Regional Court pronounced its ruling on one of the patent infringement lawsuits Motorola Mobility brought against Apple in Germany in April 2011,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “This is the first substantive ruling in this dispute. A default judgment that the same court entered against Apple last month will be rediscussed at a second hearing in early February… Today’s ruling… includes an injunction that is preliminarily enforceable against Ireland-based Apple Sales International in exchange for a €100 million ($134 million) bond unless Apple wins a stay.”

“The patent-in-suit is EP (European Patent) 1010336 (B1) on a ‘method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system.’ This patent is one of the two patents at issue in the action in which a default judgment was entered against Apple Inc.,” Mueller reports. “It was declared essential to the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) standard. It’s the European equivalent of U.S. Patent No. 6,359,898, a patent against which Apple raised a FRAND defense in the United States and which is being asserted in an action that was just transferred from the Western District of Wisconsin to the Northern District of Illinois.”

Mueller reports, “The ruling states that Apple could modify its products by removing the patented feature so as to steer clear of further infringement. It remains to be seen whether this is a commercially viable option for Apple. This feature could be somewhat fundamental to wireless data transfers in general.”

“Apple is certainly going to appeal this ruling to the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court and to request a stay for the duration of the appellate proceedings. Such a suspension may or may not be granted,” Mueller reports. “If there’s no stay, Motorola will have to decide whether to bear the risk of enforcing a ruling that might be overturned later… Apple might also make efforts to procure a license to the patent-in-suit. Apple made an offer to Motorola to take a license on FRAND terms going forward, but, as I’ll explain further below, Motorola’s lawyers developed a theory that enabled them to reject Apple’s offer while fully preserving their client’s entitlement to injunctive relief according to the decision taken by the Mannheim court. Since the ruling adjudicated a new question of law, it’s of particular significance.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This one seems to be all about whether or not Apple has to pay royalties back to the 2007 iPhone debut at a FRAND rate or at a more punitive rate (as punishment for willful infringement). If so, and other cases around the world end arrive at the same conclusion, payments from companies that have been for years willfully infringing on Apple’s patents (most of which are clearly not FRAND) will likely greatly outweigh whatever back-royalties Apple has to pay. This case is but one move in a giant chess game and this particular piece is still up in the air, its final landing spot unclear.

17 Comments

  1. This is not good, not good at all.
    Apple should have swooped up Motorola for the patents and dismantled their other operations. If iPhone gets banned in a country the black market will explode.

    1. Apparently, sadly, yes you can. There are countless noble losers history didn’t keep tabs on.

      When Edwin H. Armstrong had deemed himself a loser, committed suicide over patent battle losses, his wife had continued on his behalf. She won each of the disputed patents and successfully established her husband as the true pioneer of radio that he was (though she compromised).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Howard_Armstrong

      Hope Jobs’s heirs (be that Mr. Cook and/or his family) would do better by not compromising on his true legacy. Fight against the world if needed, that’s one way to punch a dent on a corruptible universe.

      1. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions so fast or underestimate Tim Cook…
        Expect some very revealing hints if not straight statements in Apple’s January quarterly earnings conference call by Tim Cook.

  2. We are missing Steve badly. Tim cook looks like a sitting duck to me. 100 days in office & rarely public speeches. We new someone like steve courageous enough to talk about open vs fragmented approach and to come out with his thoughts about flash to come out and openly bash all these useless courts who are ruling against apple. This is too demotivating.. Apple invents, everyone else copies & they win nd whenever and wherever apple makes an over sight they get penalised. iPad name ia china- 1.6 Billion $, FRAND in Germany 134 Million, Samsung in Australia 0$ to Apple… and as Steve ia not there to react I’m sure the next week HTC ruling is also going to be against Apple. So probably the cash pile which apple has will be enough only to pay for others while they all happily steal Apple ideas.. What a sad state of affairs…

    1. The 134 million dollars is what Motorala must pay if they decide to enforce an injunction to stop sales of iOS devices, it’s protection for Apple in case the ruling is overturned, covering Apple’s potential losses. It won’t happen, they’ll agree a licence fee.

      I think you’re reading too much into this and if you want to criticise anyone then it should be Apple’s lawyers!

    2. On every point you cite it could be argued that Jobs set up those “failures”. Don’t fret it. It’s relatively small stuff in the big picture. And Jobs wasent saying a that much in any one 100 day block. In all the years we have a few interviews, a bunch of keynotes and a couple if open letters. Give Cook time.

    3. Ridiculous. Steve didn’t go around making public speeches either. In fact, it was Tim Cook who stated on a quarterly conference call discussing Apple results that Apple would go after those who steal Apple’s IP.

      These cases were all in the works long before Steve died, and they will continue under Apple’s legal team’s guiding hand. There also will be new cases, which Apple Legal will handle just fine.

      The patent system isn’t a list of who gets control of what particular technology or invention, but millions of overlapping webs which form endless mazes containing Rubik’s Cubes with 1 billion squares on each side – IOW, it’s a frickin’ mess to navigate and figure out.

    4. Much as I appreciate the analysis of the situation, to pull the “We are missing Steve badly” card here is ridiculous FUD. Get some perspective man!

      Reread the article as well as the comments here. This is a process and Apple has had great success so far. Considering the chaotic state of patents around the world, this mess is an inevitable outcome. Technology is clearly well beyond the comprehension of bumbling government bureaucrats. The only winners here are the lawyers who rake in the cash. Having Steve Jobs reanimated from the dead would change nothing at all.

      1. Get some perspective, yourself, Derek. There are a lot of government bureaucrats and relatively few of them fit the “bumbling” stereotype. It is far easy for you to cast stones and scoff. But this is a complex subject and I doubt that you would do as well under the same circumstances.

  3. OMG the sky is falling…

    BS, this is just a legal mambo jumbo crap case that will be overturned.

    There is no way the FRAND patent system will be turned upside down.

    1. I gotta agree here. Any Apple-haters that are rubbing their palms with glee over this ruling need to think about the wider consequences if Apple loses.

      ——RM

    1. For those who appreciate spelling and quotation:

      Shakespeare: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Stated by Marcellus in the play Hamlet, Act 1, scene 4. I looked it up on the Internet and there it was. Not hard.

  4. I’m so disappointed with Apple’s lack of success in the courts. I think Android is simply too pervasive to be ruled against with any significance now.

    The situation would be a lot better if iPhone came to Verizon much earlier.

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