Apple Wins Injunction Against Motorola Over “Slide-to-Unlock”
A recent ruling handed down by the Munich I Regional Court on Thursday found that a number of Motorola products had in fact infringed on Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent. This results in a permanent injunction against any of the offending devices.
It was Judge Dr. Peter Guntz that deemed that Motorola’s implementation of a screen unlocking feature used across its smartphone line imitates the image on Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent image. This in turn gives Apple the option to enforce a German injunction against a bond. The patent in question is Apple’s European patent, EP1964022, was awarded in October 2010 and is titled “Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image.” The company was also granted an identical patent a year later by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
During the court case, three different Motorola implementations of gesture-based device unlocking were examined, two of which were deemed to be infringing on Apple’s patent, namely those used by the RAZR line. Motorola’s Xoom tablet managed to showcase the concept different enough to escape injunction. This specific implementation was similar to that of the Galaxy Note and requires a user to swipe their finger from inside a circle to outside.
Regardless, Apple’s victory against Motorola results in a complete rework of how Motorola devices handle screen unlocking. The judge would only force a firmware modification and not a ban on device sales, which is pretty crucial in terms of leniency towards Motorola. According to Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents
, the outcome creates a “noticeable degradation of the user experience of Motorola’s products,” as the company will probably end up extending the “slide-to-unlock circle” found in the Xoom across its entire product line.
This decision is going to be not only a blow to Motorola’s mobility division but also hurt Android handset makers in general. It will allow Apple to bring similar claims to companies using the Google operating system to court in Germany, for example Samsung in Mannheim.
Chances are we will see an appeal to today’s court case ruling though so we’ll have to wait and see what move is made next.
Source: FOSS Patents