German Court Blocks Motorola’s iPhone Injunction

Published on February 27, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Motorola Mobility suffered a nasty setback for its ongoing patent battle with Apple when a German appeals court ruling temporarily blocked it from enforcing an injunction it won in December.

The Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court this morning ruled that a standards-essential patent injunction that would have forced Apple to remove its iPhones and iPads from store shelves in Germany cannot be enforced during an appeal. The ruling was issued after the court reviewed the licensing terms Apple offered Motorola Mobility for the standards-essential patents at issue in the case. Those patents are governed by FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) licensing terms and evidently the court felt Apple’s proposal to be reasonable.

“At the current state of the proceedings … Motorola Mobility would violate its duties under antitrust rules if it continues to ask Apple to stop [iPhone and iPad] sales” the court said in a statement.

In other words, that “maximum per-unit royalty of 2.25 percent” that Motorola has been seeking on every iPhone sale isn’t going to fly in Germany. And if Motorola continues to press for it, the company may invite antitrust scrutiny.

For Apple, the ruling, while temporary, is a significant victory, lending credence to its claim that the royalites Motorola is seeking for its standards-essential patents are unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory. For Motorola — and its new owner, Google — it’s a blow that could undermine its legal strategy of seeking injunctive relief based on standards-essential patents. More on that here, from Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents.

The Karlsruhe court believes Apple has made sufficient good faith efforts at licensing the patents at issue in this case that Motorola would be in breach of antitrust regulations if it were to attempt to enforce the December injunction.

Motorola Mobility did not respond to requests for comment.

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