A court in Germany has issued a preliminary ruling in a patent case between Apple and Motorola Mobility which could affect the availability of the iPhone and iPad in the country.
Patent expert Florian Mueller posted a German-language document from a Mannheim court which outlines a default judgement in favour of Motorola Mobility and its claims that Apple infringes on two mobile device patents.
According to Mueller, the judgement could immediately allow Motorola to take action preventing the sale of infringing products. The patents are believed to cover the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Mueller suggested that Apple had allowed for the default judgement in order to present all of its arguments in an appeal. The tactic is commonly used under German law to avoid missing a filing deadline.
"By simply letting the plaintiff win a default judgment, a defendant preserves his ability to present all of his arguments in the appeal," Mueller wrote on the FOSS Patents blog.
"But this has cost implications (which are less than secondary in this case given what's at stake) and comes with the risk of a default judgement that is preliminarily enforceable."
Mueller explained that the Motorola ruling may not fully block the availability of Apple products in Germany. Apple resellers could obtain products from other countries as one possible workaround.
"It will be interesting to see how much of a disruptive business impact this will have on Apple's revenue production in Germany," he said.
"This is a very strange episode in the ongoing mobile patent wars, and without a doubt this does potentially strengthen Motorola Mobility vis-à-vis Apple."
The case is not the first high-profile patent fight Apple has seen in Germany. Earlier this year the company scored a victory when courts ruled in its favour against Samsung and barred the sale of the Galaxy Tab.
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