Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI) won a German patent ruling over Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iCloud service that may allow the company to block sales of devices including iPhone and iPad in the country if they use the software that accesses it.
The Mannheim Regional Court found Apple infringed a patent used to synchronize e-mail accounts. The ruling holds Apple liable for damages and allows Motorola Mobility to ask for information about past device sales, Presiding Judge Andreas Voss said.
“The court has come to the conclusion that the wording of the patent does cover functions that were at issue here,” Voss said today. Apple “wasn’t able to convince the court that it isn’t infringing.”
“Apple believes this old pager patent is invalid and we’re appealing the court’s decision,” said Alan Hely, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company.
ICloud is a service that automatically stores photos, songs and other files on servers at Apple’s data centers for use on all of a customer’s gadgets.
The case is the second Motorola Mobility, the mobile-phone maker being acquired by Google Inc. (GOOG), has won in a German court against Apple. The company is seeking to enforce an injunction in the first case involving a cellular-communications patent that led Apple to remove some older iPhones and iPad models from its online store in Germany overnight.
Apple said in a statement that it will return the products to the online store after another court temporarily barred Motorola Mobility from enforcing the injunction. The Karlsruhe appeals court said it is reviewing Apple’s request to halt the execution of the order during the appeal of the December ruling.
“We are pleased that the Mannheim court has recognized the importance of our intellectual property and granted an enforceable injunction in Germany against Apple Sales International,” Motorola Mobility said in a statement. “Although the enforcement of the injunction has been temporarily suspended, Motorola Mobility will continue to pursue its claims against Apple.”
The first bid by Apple for such a delay was rejected in January because of a dispute over license terms, the appeals court said in an e-mailed statement. The judges will now look into an amended license offer by Apple.
Google is buying Motorola Mobility to gain mobile patents and expand its hardware business. Google’s Android is also the operating system for smartphones made by companies such as HTC Corp. (2498) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) that compete with Apple’s iPhone.
In the iCloud case, Motorola Mobility must post 100 million euros ($132 million) as collateral if it seeks to suspend sales of Apple products while Apple appeals the decision. Apple had asked the court at a November hearing to set it at 2 billion euros.
German courts often require the winning side to post collateral in order to enforce a ruling while the loser appeals. The amount reflects the losses the party may suffer when forced to comply with the ruling. If it wins the appeal, it can seek damages and recover the collateral.
Today’s iCloud ruling is LG Mannheim 7 O 229/11, the suspension appeals case is OLG Karlsruhe 6 U 136/11.
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