German court knocks down one Samsung patent claim against Apple


The long-running tit-for-tat legal battle between Samsung and Apple logged another entry today, with Judge Andreas Voss of the Mannheim Regional Court in Germany ruling that Apple does not infringe on a Samsung patent involving 3G/UMTS technology. The judge did not offer any detailed reasoning, but overall the ruling likely represents only a small setback in Samsung’s ongoing battle with Apple in Germany: It still has four more lawsuits pending there, spanning a total of six patent infringement claims against Apple.

Apple is also suing Samsung in Germany over six patents.

Apple and Samsung are suing and counter-suing each other over Android and iOS on a worldwide basis, with cases ongoing in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Although neither company has chalked up a distinct victory in the litigation, the German cases have been among the most high-profile for Samsung, since Apple managed to get Samsung devices removed from the IFA trade show last September. However, even where Apple has managed to gain injunctions on Samsung products, they’ve been hollow victories, with the injunctions being overturned on appeal or side-stepped with product modification.

The reasons for Judge Voss’s ruling that Samsung’s 3G/UMTS patent is invalid could become significant later. As noted by Florian Mueller in his FOSS Patents blog, if the judge’s reasoning was that Samsung had exhausted its rights to assert the patent, the rationale could effect three of Samsung’s four remaining lawsuits against Apple in Germany. In effect, Apple would have a license to use the technology. However, if the judge found that Apple didn’t infringe on Samsung’s patent on technical grounds, it likely won’t have any impact on Samsung’s remaining suits.

Earlier this week, Apple filed a new lawsuit against Samsung in Germany seeking to have sales of ten Samsung smartphones banned. Apple and Samsung are also back in German court today, where Apple is arguing Samsung products violate a German utility model Apple applied for regarding iOS’s slide-to-unlock mechanism. (In Germany, a “utility model” is somewhat less than a patent. It’s quick to apply for, but has a number of limitations.) Apple also applied for a German patent on slide-to-unlock, which it also claims Samsung (and Motorola) infringe upon. Those accusations are being handled separately). Does this sound like minutia? Recall that these actions follow on Samsung suing Apple over how the iPhone displays emoticons.

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