Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Munich court denies an Apple injunction motion, another tosses a Microsoft lawsuit

Three of the court rulings that have so far found Android devices to infringe 11 valid Apple and Microsoft patents came down in Munich. After Judge Koh's court in San Jose in the Northern District of California, this makes the Southern German city, which is also the seat of the European Patent Office and the German Federal Patent Court, the toughest terrain for Android worldwide. But people in Munich are getting ready for the main vacation season, and today Android was cleared of violation of one Apple and one Microsoft patent.

This morning, the leading German news agency dpa reported that the Oberlandesgericht M√ľnchen (Munich Higher Regional Court) affirmed the Munich I Regional Court's denial of a preliminary injunction that Apple had requested against Samsung for alleged infringement of the "overscroll bounce", or "rubber-banding", patent. The lower court had based its decision in February on doubts about the validity of this patent. The appeals court has now affirmed that ruling.

A decision on a motion for a preliminary injunction (even if it's made by an appeals court) is, by definition, not final. It's based on an assessment of the plaintiff's chances of prevailing at the end of the main proceeding. Decisions on preliminary injunction motions (including the related appeals) are made on the fast track, and final decisions are made at the end of full-blown main proceedings.

Shortly after the Munich Regional Court's denial (and even prior to the appeal that was adjudicated today), Apple asserted the overscroll bounce patent in Mannheim (instead of pursuing the related main proceeding in Munich).

Apple also asserted it against Motorola in a different proceeding in Munich (in which Apple did not request a preliminary injunction). A decision on that one will be announced in two weeks (August 9). Today's decision by the appeals court in the same city doesn't make things easier for Apple in that action against Motorola.

The overscroll bounce patent will also be at issue at the California trial starting next week. Judge Koh deemed that patent likely valid and infringed in a decision on a motion for a preliminary injunction, but denied injunctive relief for equitable reasons. It's possible that Samsung will file a request for judicial notice of today's Munich decision, but the legal systems are different and I doubt that the Munich appellate decision will have any impact on the upcoming decision in California.

In the afternoon, the Munich I Regional Court announced a decision on a Microsoft v. Motorola Mobility lawsuit (actually split up into two lawsuits by the court, one against Motorola's German subsidiary and one against its U.S. parent company, for administrative reasons). A lawsuit over an event management architecture patent was thrown out because the court was unconvinced of Android's implementation of the relevant technique falling within the scope of this patent.

The Munich I Regional Court was originally expected to rule on another Microsoft patent action against Motorola today, but a decision on a soft input panel patent was postponed until September.

Tomorrow, the Mannheim Regional Court will rule on a Microsoft v. Motorola Mobility lawsuit over a file system patent.

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