Apple wins injunction against Motorola phones in Germany using slide-to-unlock patent

Apple has won an injunction against Motorola phones in a regional court in Munich, Germany earlier today. The injunction can be enforced by Apple at its own risk, and against a bond. That’s because, while being a ‘permanent’ injunction, it is subject to appeal. Which both Apple and Motorola are expected to do (Moto already officially stating that it will).

Why would Apple appeal? Well, because it won the injunction based on two embodiments of a patent relating to the slide-to-unlock feature so prevalent in today’s mobile devices. But Apple filed for an injunction using three of those embodiments, and what it won only concerns smartphones, whereas the third embodiment was relating to tablets. So the Cupertino company naturally would want all of the three to be deemed injunction-worthy.

As for Motorola, its reason for appeal is clear. The company did say that it expects no impact on sales. Which is exactly the key takeaway here.

First of all, this decision is not final. An appeals court may change it or overthrow it entirely. Second, even if it stands as it is today (or even ends up being applied to tablets as well), all Motorola has to do to circumvent any injunction is redesign the lockscreen on its devices to be as dissimilar as possible to Apple’s patented one. And start selling its devices with the new lockscreen. That’s it.

Seriously, that’s not at all hard to do. Sure, if you’ve been used to the ‘Apple’ way of sliding to unlock you may need a brief learning period when adapting to Moto’s new implementation (whatever that turns out to be), but that’s the only casualty here. A bit of your time. And who knows, being forced to do this may actually make Motorola (and/or other Android device makers) come up with a more innovative way of unlocking these touchscreen slabs we all carry around these days.

Interestingly enough, the Motorola Xoom (which allegedly contains the third embodiment of the patent that Apple was suing for) has a different type of lockscreen than the Motorola phones involved in this ruling. The Xoom comes with the circle-based lockscreen first seen in Android 3.2 Honeycomb, and kept almost intact in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Perhaps Google purposefully tried to design this lockscreen to circumvent Apple’s then pending patent for sliding to unlock. We’ll never know that. What we do know is that despite some bombastic titles you may read in the media and blogosphere at large, this is a very minor setback for a corporation as big as Motorola – if it is one at all.

If Apple will ever destroy Android, this won’t be how. And if this is Apple’s ‘thermonuclear war’ on Android at its best, then the Cupertino company has surely been scammed by those providing it with the ‘guns’, so to speak.

Via FOSS Patents

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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