Apple has won a case against Motorola in German courts over a patent covering the system for unlocking smartphones by swiping a figure across a portion of the screen (pictured below).
The court's decision, handed down in Munich, means that Apple could enforce a ban on Motorola's products in the region. This would involve the risk of Apple forfeiting a bond if the ban was overturned by Motorola in the future.
The case was brought against two Motorola smartphones and its Xoom tablet, and while Apple won the injunction against the smartphones, it was unsuccessful against the tablet.
Motorola said it intends to appeal the ban and also reassured customers in Germany that the ruling would not halt sales as it was planning a workaround to the patent Apple was basing its case upon.
"[The] ruling in the patent litigation brought by Apple in Munich, Germany, concerns a software feature related to phone unlocking in select Motorola devices sold in Germany," it said.
"Motorola has implemented a new design for the feature. Therefore, we expect no impact on current supply or future sales."
Apple said it was not commenting on the development.
Patent analyst Florian Mueller said in a blog post that while Motorola could circumvent the ruling by modifying the devices to use a different unlocking method, such as the spiral motion required on the Samsung Galaxy Note, this could have a negative impact on the overall user experience.
"There's no question that they can keep their products available by modifying them. This is about a degradation of the user experience. If [Motorola] wants to play it safe in Germany, it implements the slide-to-unlock circle across its entire product range," he said.
"That one was cleared by the regional court and is safe at least until the end of the appeals proceeding. But [...] it's not very intuitive, and I don't think it can work well on typical smartphone screens. It remains to be seen what this workaround looks like."
The case is the first notable victory for Apple against Motorola in Germany, where it has been on the back foot against the firm for some time, at one point even facing a sales ban on its own iPad and iPhone devices, although it has since successfully appealed this ruling.
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