Apple Loses German Top Court Case on Swipe-to-Unlock Patent

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Judges on Tuesday said that the iPhone maker’s method didn’t reach a level of sophistication needed to award patent protection.

Judges on Tuesday said that the iPhone maker’s method didn’t reach a level of sophistication needed to award patent protection.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. lost a ruling at Germany’s top civil court over a patent for unlocking smartphones with a finger swipe.

Judges on Tuesday said that the iPhone maker’s method didn’t reach a level of sophistication needed to award patent protection -- backing an earlier patent tribunal ruling in favor of Lenovo Group Ltd.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art,” the Karlsruhe-based court wrote. “The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”

Apple’s German press office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Samsung Electronics Co. had initially joined Motorola Mobility in the case, but later withdrew.

In 2012, Apple won a Munich court injunction against Motorola Mobility based on the patent. That case is pending on appeal and was stayed to wait for the outcome of Tuesday’s suit.

Today’s case is BGH, X ZR 110/13.

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