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Germany dismisses some Apple and Samsung suits

The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany has thrown another complication into litigation between Apple and Samsung, dismissing three cases where Samsung is suing Apple over 3G technology patents, and one case where Apple is suing Samsung over slide-to-unlock patents. The dismissals do not mark the end of Apple and Samsung litigation in Mannheim: the companies have more than a dozen cases against each other pending in the Mannheim court, and the latest dismissals mean a total of four have now been ruled on.

Samsung has already announced it intends to appeal the dismissal of its patent claims against Apple, while at the same time praising the dismissal of Apple’s slide-to-unlock claim. Apple declined to comment on the rulings.

The dismissals represent a bit of a blow to Samsung, because the company still hasn’t been able to make good on any of its patent infringement claims against Apple — and that includes venues elsewhere around the world. In January the Mannheim court dismissed two of Samsung’s patent claims against Apple without giving reasons. Samsung has continued to expand it suits against Apple, invoking not only patents central to 3G technology but emoticons. Even if Samsung were to win suits over 3G technology patents, Apple would likely be able to assert the same FRAND defense that seems to be working against Motorola — and, which, so far represents Apple’s biggest win against its opponents. Basically, Apple claims both Motorola and Samsung are attempting to extort exorbitant royalty rates from Apple for technologies they contributed to 3G standards. Apple has asked the Eurpean Telecommunications Standards Institute to adopt uniform FRAND licensing policies (a move supported by, of all companies, Microsoft), and the EU is investigating Samsung’s FRAND licensing practices.

Over at FOSS Patents, case-watcher Florian Mueller speculates Apple is likely to appeal the slide-to-unlock ruling since the Mannheim court’s view of the patent is narrower than that of a Munich court, which largely ruled in Apple’s favor back in February.

In a separate ruling from the Munich Regional Court, Apple also scored a minor victory against Motorola, with a judge granting an injunction to Apple over all Motorola devices that implement a photo management patent. The patent covers how some functions are available when viewing photos in a “zoomed-in” mode. If Apple were to enforce the injunction — which it might consider, as a tit-for-tat over Motorola getting iCloud push email suspended in Germany — it could require Motorola to destroy infringing products in Germany, as well as recall those at retailers. However, it’s very likely Motorola products will remain on the market in Germany with no interruption: Motorola has already announced it has implemented a new way to view photos on its products that circumvents the patent — Motorola claims their workaround doesn’t impact the user experience, but customers will have to decide for themselves.