“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.