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Apple Wins Temporary Ruling on German IPad, IPhone Sales

Apple Inc. won a German appeals court ruling temporarily blocking the enforcement of a patent verdict obtained by Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. in December.

Motorola Mobility, which forced Apple to remove some iPad and iPhone models from its German online store for a short period, can’t enforce the verdict during an appeal. The ruling was issued after the iPad maker revised license-agreement terms it offered Motorola Mobility, the court said in an e-mailed statement today.

“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,” the court said in a statement.

Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google Inc., and Apple are entangled in numerous patent disputes. Today’s case concerned a so-called standard essential patent that companies must license to competitors because they can’t produce the devices without the technology. Cupertino, California-based Apple has also filed a complaint with the European Union accusing Motorola Mobility of violating a pledge to license industry-standard patents on fair terms.

Apple spokesman Alan Hely declined to comment. Motorola Mobility’s press office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Mannheim Court

Motorola Mobility, based in Libertyville, Illinois, would violate its duties if it doesn’t accept the new offer and thus can’t make use of the verdict during an appeal, the court said. It didn’t disclose details of Apple’s offer.

Apple made a first request to the appeals court in January over the issue. At that time, the judges said the terms Apple offered weren’t adequate, supporting the reasoning of the lower court in Mannheim, Germany, that had issued the December verdict. Apple then revised its offer.

Today’s ruling helps Apple’s prospects in the appeals case, which hinges on the terms Motorola Mobility must accept to be forced to grant a license. In their December verdict the Mannheim judges rejected Apple’s offer, saying it didn’t adequately take Motorola Mobility’s interest into account.

Today’s case is OLG Karlsruhe, 6 U 136/11.

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