Apple Loses Motorola Patent Case, Must Pay Damages

Motorola and Apple

Apple has lost another patent case, this time in Germany.

A Mannheim court ruled that Apple infringed on Motorola Mobility’s core cellular communications patents related to data packet transfer technology (GRPS) in everything from iPhones to iPads. Motorola was also awarded damages and won a preliminary injunction against Apple Sales International, which is based in Ireland.

In April, Motorola filed suit against Apple in Germany saying that several devices (including iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G) were infringing on its EP1010336 patent. This patent refers to a “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system,” according to the company, and is owned by Motorola and, recently, Google.

What happens now? Motorola has an injunction against Apple devices in Germany and based on the damages awarded, Apple will be paying some sizable amount. (Apple is filing an appeal.) But if Motorola decides to activate the injunction over Apple devices in Germany, it has to pay a €100m ($133 million) bond. Apple previously “asked for a €2 billion ($2.7 billion) bond, but the court agreed with Motorola for a much lower amount,” according to Foss Patents.

To comply with the rules, Apple would have to modify its products, removing the feature that Motorola Mobility patented. It’s unclear what Apple will do: experts say this patent is crucial for every wireless-based device. We may see a landmark agreement between Motorola and Apple over the intellectual property.

The next step is unclear in what could be a long battle. Most likely, Apple will try to delay the ban on its devices in Germany. A second hearing is scheduled for February 2012.

Update: Motorola issued a statement:

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling. Today’s decision validates Motorola Mobility’s efforts to enforce its patents against Apple’s infringement,” said Scott Offer, senior vice president and general counsel of Motorola Mobility. “Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years to build an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio that is respected by the telecommunications industry, and we are proud to leverage this portfolio to create differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience. We will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our intellectual property, as the company’s patent portfolio and licensing agreements with companies both in the U.S. and around the world are critical to our business. We have been negotiating with Apple and offering them reasonable licensing terms and conditions since 2007, and will continue our efforts to resolve our global patent dispute as soon as practicable.”

Apple gave an official statement to AllThingsD:

“We’re going to appeal the court’s ruling right away,” an Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD. “Holiday shoppers in Germany should have no problem finding the iPad or iPhone they want.”

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