Apple wins temporary relief from MMI injunction in Germany

Apple wins temporary relief from MMI injunction in Germany
Bloomberg is reporting that a German appellate court has granted Apple temporary relief from an injunction from Motorola Mobility. Motorola won an injunction in December against some Apple devices based on a “standards essential” patent. Apple claimed that because the patent is protected by the Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) rules, Motorola shouldn’t be able to enforce their injunction while Apple still had a chance to win on appeal.

The court agreed, stating: “At the current state of the proceedings, it is to be assumed that Motorola Mobility would violate its duties under antitrust rules if it continues to ask Apple to stop the sales.”

So Apple can avoid an injunction until the appeals process is concluded. If Apple wins on appeal, naturally there will be no injunction, while if Apple loses and does not make an offer that qualifies for FRAND consideration (which to date they have not) then the injunction would reinstated…and presumably Apple would quickly find in in their heart (and purse-strings) to make such an offer.

Apple has made several offers, but in December the Mannheim court rejected Apple’s last offer, saying they “didn’t adequately take Motorola Mobility’s interest into account”.  Apple has since made another offer, playing a cat and mouse game to see what the minimum amount will be found acceptable to the Mannheim courts. Apple is particularly concerned about setting a precedent with MMI that could lead other patent holders to try and renegotiate their patent fees in a way that cuts into Apple’s industry-leading profit margins.

This ruling does not impact MMI’s other injunction, against Apple’s iCloud service, which is based on a patent that isn’t protected by FRAND rules. We find little to be surprised about in this ruling – Apple has already asked the EU to look into Motorola’s use of FRAND patents in its German lawsuits, and it only makes sense for the court to not exacerbate a situation that may be investigated by the EU anti-trust officials. Nor is it a permanent setback to Motorola if they can win the appeal (and if they can’t, they don’t deserve an injunction, especially on a FRAND patent).

Apparently this ruling does surprise Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, who wrote a blog post whose title said (among other things) that this ruling is a “huge victory for Apple, bad news for Google,” and went on to claim that this one temporary ruling invalidates Motorola’s entire legal strategy and even calls into question Google’s purchase of MMI…the same purchase that Google has repeatedly said was not just about patents.

We’ll let you judge the wisdom of Mr. Mueller’s take; you can find his impressions along with Bloomberg’s more sober reporting in the source links below.

source: Bloomberg via BGR, FOSS Patents



1. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

"Apple claimed that because the patent is protected by the Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) rules, Motorola shouldn’t be able to enforce their injunction while Apple still had a chance to win on appeal." Can that same claim be used by samsung against apple's injunction against the galaxy tab 10.1?

4. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

No, Apple's injunctions have been either for design patents ("community design" in the EU) or for patents that aren't part of industry standards. The design patents aren't likely to be a problem (Samsung already worked around the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the 10.1N), but patents like Apple's "swipe to unlock" will have to live and die on whether the patent is valid. Remember that for FRAND to apply the patent must be submitted to (and accepted) by an industry standards body, not merely be a design that is widely used. So Samsung will have to try and prove that the patents aren't valid (e.g. because it's "too obvious" based on other patents, or that there is "prior art" that demonstrated swipe to unlock before Apple filed for their patent). We're not trying to call those lawsuits for either side, just pointing out that different rules apply to each kind of patent. It's a lot to follow, I admit. I guess that's why lawyers get paid so well...

12. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

True, but FRAND could be seen to apply to community design in the design aspect, as the ipad shares the same general shape as many other devices of rectangular shape and rounded corners (which is all the "napkin drawing" outlined, literally): TVs and monitors, appliances, books, even conceptual designs that preceded apple's existence, like the tablet-like devices in 2001: A Space Oddysey, or that predate the ipad like the tablet-like devices in Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series (season pilot is the first example I believe, being used by Captain Picard), and the design makes sense for a larger hand-held device Granted, after actually holding the ipad and the Galaxy Tab side by side, I can see the similarities (the chrome ring around the bezel of the entire Galaxy line being the most blatant and pointless), but the Tab is a widescreen device, doesn't have a giant round home button, and a much smaller bezel, so while they may be indistinguishable in profile or looking at the back with all the logos covered up, the front (where the user is interacting with the device) clearly illustrates the difference

14. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Oh, and the chargers, too. I dunno if Apple uses Samsung's charger or Samsung "borrowed" apple's design (flattened cylinder) but I see no need for them to be that similar I'm pro-Samsung and anti-apple, but if we're honest, they do appear all too similar Anyway, back to Motorola..

2. tward291

Posts: 559; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

the german courts are always quick to bend over for apple

3. baaam

Posts: 61; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

Is Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents an Apple associate?! DAFAQ?!!

5. LoneShaolin

Posts: 307; Member since: Jan 14, 2012

Stockholder by the looks of things.

6. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

lol we all know this florian muellar guy is all up apples a**

7. ivanko34

Posts: 617; Member since: Sep 04, 2011

what is this secret love story in germany between apple and the german judges ?

8. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

Well time will tell, lets just sit back, grab some popcorn and soda, and wait for the final ruling.

9. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Florian's a hysterical idiot. And it sounds like FRAND is a stupid set of laws. What's the point of recognizing that Motorola or anyone has patents if they can't be enforced at all?

10. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

The idea is it's a trade off - when a standards body declares your patent essential to that standard, then by default everyone has to license it from you (because you can't say, make a phone call if you don't have the patents that make it possible). So you get to make a lot of money. The flip side is that you agree to not use that position as a weapon against competitors; basically you are gaining lots of revenue in exchange for promising to not abuse the need for that patent with lawsuits. Which doesn't mean Motorola can't sue and win - Apple already lost the first round because the court deemed Apple's payment offer to not be a fair offer to Motorola - but in essence the whole thing is a court-ordered negotiation to find out what IS fair to pay to license the patent, so the appeals court thought that letting Motorola keep an injunction during the appeals process would give Motorola more leverage than FRAND rules are supposed to allow. If Apple continues to refuse to pony up for an amount the court deems fair then they'll still lose their ability to sell the products eventually. But you are right that FRAND patents really aren't nearly as useful for lawsuits - that's the point (for better or worse) of participating in a standards body.

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Okay, that makes a lot more sense then. I still think that if Apple wants to play the "we aren't going to pay" card then they should still be under injunction. Either way, though, it sounds like Germany has a dysfunctional and inconsistent court system.

13. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Well said, Scott

15. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Is FRAND even legally enforceable? To my understanding FRAND was akin to a handshake by the OEM's, not something that is contractually obligated. I could be wrong though. If so, someone please let me know. And as to Florian, EVERYONE knows he's nothing more than iZ0mbie of the highest order. He's nothing more than a crackpot with a blog as far as I'm concerned. He's definitely either on the CR@pple payroll or a major stockholder. He also has an irrational hatred of Google.


Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

has apple bribed the court its still in apples favour even there guilty or the german system is bogus

17. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Anyone follow the German court's judges around? If they're using iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, or Macs in their personal lives... well, they may just be a bit biased. Not saying that they are, just the possibility of it.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless