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German Court Issues Injunction Against iPhone & iPad 349

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-litigation dept.
angry tapir writes "A German court has ruled that Apple's iPhone and iPad devices infringe a Motorola patent and issued an injunction against sales of the products in Germany, in the latest move in a long series of legal battles between the companies. It's the latest stage in the international patent conflict that's been raging over mobile devices, which has included the recent Samsung victory over Apple in an Australian court and a defeat for Samsung in a Dutch court."
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German Court Issues Injunction Against iPhone & iPad

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  • Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:15PM (#38339440)
    Maybe if _all_ the big players suffer enough then there will actually be some support for real patent reform.

    (Not to mention of course that it's nice to see Apple get nailed after all the patent crap they've pulled on others.)
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:17PM (#38339458)

      I'd put my cynical money on them finding some way to reform the patent system that only really benefits large companies while still screwing over individuals, small businesses, and free software developers, but I do hope you're right.

      • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:36PM (#38339578)

        teach your children how the system really is, not how they want you to think it is. (note, this be challenging as everyone is going to fight you on this, schools and everyone else 'in charge').

        then hope that by the time they have power and are in control of things, they remember the lessons you taught them and they can make changes.

        its absolutely hopeless for our generation. but the next one, maybe. maybe. IF we teach them how bad the current one is and stop covering it up and sugarcoating (disney-ing, to so speak) it.

        I was brougth up with the myth that mr policeman is there to help and mr government man is, also. both are blatant lies and it took me decades to learn the real truth. I'd like to hope that the next generation might actually learn from OUR mistakes and make things better.

        but for us, right now, nothing will change. inertia is too great. big bodies in motion keep going in their same directions.

        • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:28PM (#38339866)
          If we wait for our children to take up the fight, we will wait forever. As children grow, our generation will replace our parents as "the ones in charge", and we will oppress them and keep them from the halls of power the same way the previous generations do now. It is a cycle without end, unless we say WE are the generation to make change, and act on it. If that isn't enough to get you active, consider this: while we wait for our children to somehow rise up, we let everyone harmed by the current state of the world suffer.
          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by meerling (1487879) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:25AM (#38340158)
            Most of the people in power are those that vigorously sought it out.
            Those people are almost always those who want power to have power, not to wield it for the greater good, justice, or compassion.
            These, of course, are the worst people to have that power.
            So even if you raise a generation of 99.9% kind and caring people, 90% of the positions of power will belong to that power grubbing remainder.

            The only way to change that is either eliminate all positions of power, find a means to ensure that would be power mongers can never attain it, or somehow alter humanity itself so there is no such thing as a desire for power. Honestly, I don't think any of those will ever happen, though I can imagine a dictatorial situation where all the power is held by one small group so no-one else can attain any power, but that just eliminates competition, not the problem.
            (And yes, I dream of a utopia where the would be politicians and such can never obtain the power they crave because they are considered unfit for the job, but the problem with utopians is that even science fiction writers don't believe in the possibility of a utopia being real.)

            Of course this whole thing with Apple is the result of a pissing contest it looks like they started. Guess they are going to have much bigger problems if the wind keeps shifting direction. (Patenting a flat rectangle that's black with beveled edges. What moron let that through?)
            • Doling out power (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday December 12, 2011 @02:29AM (#38340688) Homepage Journal

              Make it like jury duty. Select leaders at random. Maybe have a test for specialized positions, or a general civics exam.

              I'm not sure I believe in this myself, but it would have advantages over the current system.

              • Re:Doling out power (Score:4, Interesting)

                by isorox (205688) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:13AM (#38341002) Homepage Journal

                Make it like jury duty. Select leaders at random. Maybe have a test for specialized positions, or a general civics exam.

                I'm not sure I believe in this myself, but it would have advantages over the current system.

                In the UK there are very powerful, unelected, civil servants that run the country (see Yes Minister for an exagerated example). I assume the same happens in the U.S.

                I genuinely believe most new politicians (at least the UK) have principles. I might not agree with them of course. After a few years on the job they're brow-beaten, same as in any large organisation. They're allowed to make the occasional grand gesture for PR purposes, but generally the ship keeps steering the course with noone at the helm.

            • There is a solution (Score:5, Interesting)

              by aepervius (535155) on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:05AM (#38341136)
              I think it was even done by ancient greek : democraty by lottery. Any adult at 20 is forced to pass a small test (nothing great, and certainly the test must not be allowed to filter out the population majority, only that you can count, basic litteracy stuff, and mental healthy, aka no life breaking psychose). Once the test is good, you are OK for the next 40 years to be in the lottery (forced in the lottery). Then each 4 or 5 years at election, a college of people is elected at random under hefty surveillance that no cheating happen with sheets of paper thrown at random and taken out for each seats of representative. Then those people are given a 2 or 3 hours refresher on constitutionality of law, the constitution , bill of rights etc... After that they are thrown in to vote for laws. For the next 30 years after their investiture they are looked at by tax, law representative, anti corruption team, whatnot to make sure there is no "gift" coming after their investiture.

              There would still be cheating and corruption, but it would be a tad bit more difficult than with the elected pigs aristocraty we have right now.

              Another solution would be that laws are not anymore voted by representative, but open for the whole folk to vote for/against electronically.
          • we can start now, but I don't think its realistic to expect to SEE change in our lifetime.

            those who are the 'haves' are not going to give things up without a fight and I don't see a french (or any other kind) of physical violent revolution coming to the US anytime soon.

            change (nonviolent kind) has to be slow and that's in lifetimes, not decades.

            wish I was wrong. prove me wrong, I won't mind ;)

      • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GumphMaster (772693) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:05PM (#38339724)

        No reform required. That's exactly how it works now. The small guy holding a patent cannot afford to enforce it against the big guys. Even a small guy that would eventually win, with damages and costs awarded, has to stump up the costs in advance from a cash flow that typically cannot sustain it.

      • That, and the system actually needs to benefit lawyers too, since lawyers are a disproportionate part of politicians and political contributors and lobbyists. They have right now a system that serves them well, they'll fight change or find a way to make it better for them (ie, even more litigious).

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:23PM (#38339490)

      Well, let's see, the tally so far.

      Apple is blocked from selling iPad and iPhone.

      Samsung is blocked selling their tablets and phones elsewhere.

      Now with a little luck within a year or two no-one is allowed to sell any smartphone or tablet anywhere in the world.

      The winners will be: the Chinese manufacturers who don't care about patents and copyrights, who will just continue to produce, and sell their products all over the world on the grey markets at rock-bottom prices.

      Works for me.

      • by giorgist (1208992)
        The Chinese build the i* devices anyway, and the Samsung devices are getting unblocked
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        I think we should start calling this whole thing "the 2011 Patent War". That's basically what it is - a war, just fought in global courtrooms instead of global hills and fields, and fought with lawsuits and injunctions instead of artillery and carpet-bombing.

        And, eventually, one of them is going to get majorly destroyed. Especially if international court cases can be taken as precedent - once one case is decided, they'd all fall in line. IANAL, so I don't know if that's the case.

        • Re:Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:10PM (#38339760)

          Patents are supposed to work the same all over the world. They may differ in details such as amount of penalties, back-penalties, etc - the basics (what is covered, and what constitutes infringement) should be roughly the same. So indeed if one courts rules one way, likely courts in other countries will rule the same.

          But to come back to your statement about war: mind that there are no winners in war. There are only losers. In WWII the allied forces were considered the winners, but the rest of Europe was as much in tatters as loser Germany was. Both sides lost huge in form of people killed or seriously wounded and disabled, buildings destroyed, infrastructure destroyed, economic losses due to the high cost of warfare and the lost production, etc. It took enormous financial support from mainly the US to help get Europe back on its feet.

          In these patent wars there will be no "Marshall plan" when the dust settles. Both Samsung and Apple (I think they can be considered the main parties here) may end up seriously crippled. Samsung has much more than just phones and tablets (they produce many other consumer electronics, and also parts for them, including parts for Apple products), Apple otoh is more reliant on their phone/tablet business, and losing too many of this kind of suits may cause them to go bankrupt in the end. And for side players like Google the mobile phone business is merely a way to expand/protect their core business, so they don't have much to lose there.

          • Re:Great! (Score:4, Informative)

            by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:49PM (#38339986)

            Patents are supposed to work the same all over the world.

            Why?

            But to come back to your statement about war: mind that there are no winners in war. There are only losers. In WWII the allied forces were considered the winners, but the rest of Europe was as much in tatters as loser Germany was.

            WWII destroyed the British Empire, handed about half the human race over to communists where they couldn't compete with Western manufacturers and destroyed most of Europe's industrial production capacity. America benefited massively from the war because it was left with no real competition and the only large-scale manufacturing capacity in the West.

            • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

              by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:08AM (#38340062)

              Patents are supposed to work the same all over the world.

              Why?

              Because 1) they are supposed to fully and clearly describe an invention, so testing whether another machine uses a certain invention doesn't leave much grey area, and 2) they're based on international agreements.

              Note that I say "supposed", I know it's idealising and that practice leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Yet in practice if a patent is found to be infringed upon in one country, very likely other countries' courts will come to the same conclusion.

              WWII destroyed the British Empire, handed about half the human race over to communists where they couldn't compete with Western manufacturers and destroyed most of Europe's industrial production capacity. America benefited massively from the war because it was left with no real competition and the only large-scale manufacturing capacity in the West.

              America was a remote party of the war, like they are now in Iraq and Afghanistan. It costs heaps of money, leaves the target in tatters, but nothing much happens on home soil. Same for WWII: there were no bombardments of US cities, no US bridges blown up, few US merchant vessels sunk. Compare that to the European countries.

              Like now if Samsung and Apple (aka Germany and the other European countries) kill off each other, Google (aka US) maybe chipping in as secondary party getting hurt on the sidelines but not in their cores, parties like Google and of course all other manufacturers see two major competitors gone, opening up a huge market potential for them.

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            Both sides are already taking damage by not being able to sell their goods in certain areas, and they're spending fortunes on lawyers. It's only going to get worse - I can envision these legal cases going on for years (it's taken *how* long to nearly kill SCO?)

            So Apple's more threatened. That means they're more likely to do something stupid and desperate. You think they'd try to block them from being manufactured, by getting involved with the Chinese judicial system? That would be a near-instant kill - you

        • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Myopic (18616) * on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:21PM (#38339830)

          That's basically what it is - a war, just fought in global courtrooms instead of global hills and fields, and fought with lawsuits and injunctions instead of artillery and carpet-bombing.

          I have to say, I strongly prefer this kind of war.

          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:40PM (#38339928)

            I think I would prefer to see these companies slug it out akin to the ancient gauls [wikipedia.org]:

            Another very important aspect of Celtic ritual warfare at this time was single combat. To settle a dispute and measure one's prowess, it was customary to challenge an individual warrior from the other army to ritual single combat to the death while cheered on by the opposing hosts. Such fights were common before pitched battle, and for ritual purposes tended to occur at river fords. For examples of this behavior, one can read the epic literature of Ireland, such as the Ulster Cycle and Fenian Cycle, as well as accounts of Gaelic wars such as the "Wars of the Gael with the Foreigners" and Geoffrey Keating's "History of Ireland.

            Ritual Combat would later manifest itself in the duel, as seen in the Scottish Martial Arts of the 18th century. The victor was determined by who made the first-cut. However, this was not always observed, and at times the duel would continue to the death.

            "You there! Lawyer with the brown briefcase, I pick YOU for combat. Prepare yourself!"

    • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:17PM (#38339804)

      This is just a recapitulation of what happened when wireless tech was ramping up in the first few decades of the 20th century. The patent wars were nasty, brutal, and long enough to put an entire generation of lawyers' kids through college.

      Nothing changed. It won't change this time, either, because there are more lawyers at the controls of the US government today than there ever have been.

  • Mayhem in Mannheim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siddesu (698447) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:17PM (#38339460)
    If it was not yet obvious to someone that patents and litigation do more damage to free commerce than blatant and slavish copying, the abyss of ridiculosity that ha ensued in the wake of the recent Apple vs. * and * vs. Apple cases should have proved it once and for all with vengeance. Alas, the business leaders of the world and their political clients will continue to be oblivious to the issues. In the meantime, Florian Mueller and the rest of them patent "experts" rub hands in satisfaction in the background.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:30PM (#38339540)
      Marconi vs Telsa was also ridiculous, as was Edison against a lot of people. The US patent system has degenerated a lot since that time instead of improving.
    • "...not yet obvious to someone that patents and litigation do more damage..."

      CEO: Are patents and litigation do more damage to free commerce than blatant and slavish copying?

      Consulting Lawyer: Preposterous!

      Lobbyist: Never!

      CEO: OK then. Carry on.

  • i guess they are about to get a sweet taste of their own medicine :)

    • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:05AM (#38340050)

      Be careful what you wish for. These are FRAND patents that are in question. Motorola successfully argued that they did not have to license a FRAND patent to Apple unless Apple paid damages above and beyond the cost of the standard FRAND license rate issued to everyone else for 'past' infringement, and the additional damages are left vague under German law, meaning any ridiculous amount could pop out of the courts.

      Given that Google is the new 'OS' kid in town, you should probably read up on FRAND patents and why they are supposed to be offered at a standard rate to everyone.

      Patent wars are business as usual but when they start mucking around with FRAND patents in this way, it should make anyone in the tech business pay attention.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:57AM (#38340300)

        That's mostly because Apple filed suit having never paid for a license in the first place. Seems reasonable to me, I'm not sure how precisely making somebody pay above and beyond the standard royalties in a case like this isn't fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory. Apple could have avoided it by paying the licensing fee at the time or by not suing.

        I'm not personally sure I understand how charging somebody that just filed suit against oneself isn't fair or reasonable.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @01:04AM (#38340340)

        And again Apple fanboys come up with stupid "they're FRAND, that means Apple can do whatever it wants with them".

        Nope, Apple should have secured the license before starting to produce iPhone. Instead they said "Screw it" and later proposed to Motorola "We'll generously pay you standard rate and in exchange you don't sue us for past offense".

      • by LordLucless (582312) on Monday December 12, 2011 @03:18AM (#38340878)

        Motorola successfully argued that they did not have to license a FRAND patent to Apple unless Apple paid damages above and beyond the cost of the standard FRAND license rate issued to everyone else for 'past' infringement

        That seems eminently sensible to me. Otherwise, what would be the disincentive for ignoring FRAND licenses? If what you seem to endorse was the case, and I was a new startup, I'd just ignore FRAND patents for as long as I could. When I finally got called on it, it'd be no worse for me - and I'd have had all those years longer with my money, and kept costs down during the delicate phase of launching a new product.

        If all the courts could do was require standard payment, why would anyone, ever pay for FRAND patents without being compelled to by the court?

  • Checkers anyone? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metalmaster (1005171) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:28PM (#38339526)
    If these patent wars continue the map of Europe will look like a checkerboard. White country gets the Google product while black gets the Apple product
  • Slammed ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by giorgist (1208992) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:36PM (#38339576)
    Slammed ...

    Even better considering that apple was caught flogging off their patents to a patent troll, hoping to hurt as many "competitors" as possible.
    Every article written will hopefully include all the stories together to paint the apple darling in a new light.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/09/apple-made-a-deal-with-the-devil-no-worse-a-patent-troll/
  • Will this era in tech history be known as the "Phone Wars"?

  • by stox (131684) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:42PM (#38339610) Homepage

    dies by the sword.

    Apple will soon learn.

    Ever wonder why you see so few patent lawsuits from IBM relative to their portfolio? IBM uses their portfolio like a scalpel. Apple has uses theirs like a shotgun.

  • Serves Apple right. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:48PM (#38339644) Homepage Journal
    They not only tried to prevent samsung on grounds of 'rectangular shapes', but they also transferred their patents recently to a proxy company to sue ALL mobile phone providers.

    All is the result of the strategy jobs laid out. 'theft' my ass. theft of rectangular shapes that is.

    anyways. what goes around, comes around.
    • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:10PM (#38339762) Homepage

      No, this does not serve Apple right. This doesn't even come close to the damage and harm Apple has caused through their legal actions of these sorts. For them to be served right, the public would have to stop buying iThings for at least long enough for Apple to notice.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        For them to be served right, the public would have to stop buying iThings for at least long enough for Apple to notice.

        Hopefully this ruling can be implemented fast enough to halt xmas and January sales. Imagine an Apple store unable to sell iPhones...

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:11PM (#38339766)

    The linked article refers to Florian Mueller as a patent expert. What exactly constitutes one?

    When it comes to this particular case, this "expert" predicted Motorola's doom by fronting the ideas that it (Motorola), was suing over what he termed as "standards essential" and therefore "weak" attack or defense patents.

    No wonder he sounds humbled by this development on his blog.

  • Karma... (Score:4, Funny)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:21PM (#38339824) Homepage
    ... is a poetic, totally awesome bitch.
  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Monday December 12, 2011 @12:04AM (#38340046)

    This is patent MAD at work. Funnily, or sadly even insanity like this will not diminish support from big companies to tightening patent rules and laws even further.

    Why? Because as long as patents can be enforced like this even against big names, no one small or new will ever be able to even try to enter the same business to compete.

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