Motorola Mobility has been dealt a blow in Germany after a court ruled in favor of Apple in the ongoing standard-essential patent battle between the two firms, in which Motorola is suing Apple after refusing the Cupertino-based company’s FRAND licensing offer. The patents in question cover 3G/UMTS wireless telephony standards used by Apple in their tablet and smartphone range.
The Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court ruled that Motorola would no longer be able to enforce its patent injunction against Apple in Germany during the ongoing appeal process. Furthermore, Apple has submitted a proposal to license the technology on a FRAND basis, and the court has determined that Motorola’s refusal to withdraw cease and desist notions and refusal of acceptable terms would almost certainly be in violation of antitrust regulations.
Florian Mueller, a patent and intellectual property analyst who has been covering the unraveling battle between the two tech giants gave a frank assessment of the court’s decision on his blog, Foss Patents. "This is so huge that it even begs the question of whether Google's strategy for its $12.5 billion purchase has failed before the deal is even formally closed (they're still waiting for some regulatory approvals)."
Mueller even goes as far as to say Google should pay the $2.5 billion breakup fee and walk away from the deal. There is no doubt that Google was hoping Motorola Mobility would win this case and gain some sort of legal advantage offered by Motorola's extensive patent portfolio covering mobile technologies as its Android mobile OS faces ever closer scrutiny from competitors.
"So far, no one has been able to deal a lasting knockout blow, but I believe Apple is likely to achieve some product differentiation in its favor through continued enforcement, and Microsoft will ultimately receive royalties on 100% of all Android devices sold in the United States and some other key markets," Mueller said when speaking to PC Advisor.
Last week's judgment against Apple in respect of push email notification services on Apple handsets and tablets remains unaffected by the court's recent decision, as the infringing patents in that case are not standard essential. Essentially this means Motorola is not obliged to license it fairly, and as a result the services have been suspended in Germany for customers using the affected devices.