Motorola Unlocks Apple’s Slide Patent

In a case between Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility division and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), a German federal patent court has ruled in favor of Motorola, saying that Apple’s patents on the “slide-to-unlock” mechanism were invalid.

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Florian Mueller, who writes the FOSS Patents blog and routinely covers Apple, said that the companies affected by the ruling — Google, Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and Apple — were all aware that the Bundespatentgericht would invalidate the claims. Following a day-long court proceeding, AppleInsider said, Apple made attempts to save the patents from invalidation by introducing 14 amendments.

In the grand scheme of things, the unlock feature is one of the more irrelevant patents that Apple is fighting for, as virtually every other smartphone manufacturer has found an alternative work-around for its system. The German court noted that Apple’s patent claim for a swiping gesture, the only new enhancement to prior art, doesn’t meet certain requirements of European patent law. This so-called inventive step, which is needed to uphold a patent’s claims, was deemed “software as such” and not a requisite technical innovation to a technical problem, AppleInsider reported.

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Apple has the opportunity to appeal the decisions, and it is expected that it will. Apple has had its ups and downs with German courts — in February of last year, Apple was granted a permanent injunction against Motorola “over the improper use” of the slide function — but nearly identical actions against Samsung were thrown out by the Mannheim Regional Court a month later.

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