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German court issues injunction against iPhone, iPad in Motorola patent case

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple’s legal war with Samsung isn’t the only set of patent fights the iPad and iPhone maker is engaged in. It is also battling Motorola in courts around the world.

The latest shot fired in Motorola’s fight with Apple was fired in Germany, where a court has issued an injunction against Apple’s iPhone and iPad that could ban them from sale in the country. The ruling would only cover Germany, however, and Apple still has a chance to appeal the injunction.

Tech World has the story, which discusses the ruling that took place on Friday. The ruling focuses on a Motorola wireless technology patent for “essential to GPRS, a radio communication standard,” that the company claims Apple’s devices have infringed. The two companies have been tangling over a licensing agreement for the tech since 2007.

Apple can appeal the ruling and request a stay of the injunction in the meantime, which may effectively end the ban until a court rules definitively on the case. If Apple doesn’t get its stay, Motorola would have to pay a bond of about $134 million before the court will enforce the injunction, patent activist Florian Mueller wrote in his blog.

There was also a preliminary injunction issued against Apple in November, PC World reports, over this same issue. The court will review that ruling in February.

Like the fight with Samsung, Apple’s battle with Motorola is pretty heated. Apple has filed patent infringement claims in Germany and the U.S. over Motorola’s Xoom tablet, which runs on Google’s Android operating system. But if the injunction in Germany goes through, it could be a sizeable blow to Apple, for the same reasons that Apple’s victories against Samsung have been pretty sizeable.

Apple claims that Samsung copied the look and feel of its iOS devices in the creation of several smartphones and tablets, most notably its Galaxy S II smartphone and its Galaxy Tab line of tablets, and Apple won an injunction against Samsung in Germany earlier this year. Samsung hasn’t been too crippled by rulings against it in several courts, but judges in one country deciding that patent infringement has occurred between the companies can have an influence on judges in other countries. The same could potentially be true here between Apple and Motorola.

Both Apple and Samsung have lately been finding judges less than willing to rule that either company was infringing on the patents of the others. A French court just turned down Samsung’s request for an injunction against Apple, and Apple has run up against opposition from a U.S. judge over Samsung’s devices.

How the cases with Motorola are going to go is anybody’s guess, but Motorola said Friday the company wants to find a way to resolve the patent issues, which suggests that eventually, Apple and Motorola may find a way to settle things. But like Apple and Samsung, that doesn’t mean the fight is necessarily going to end anytime soon, and it could mean that at least in the short term, Apple’s mobile devices might disappear from German shelves.