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Apple wins Motorola 'slide-to-unlock' dispute

17 Feb 12

The majority of Motorola Mobility’s mobile devices have been found by a German court to infringe on Apple’s ‘slide-to-unlock’ patent.

As reported by Foss Patents’ Florian Mueller, Apple now has the option of enforcing a permanent injunction, provided the company is willing to put up a bond to cover Motorola Mobility’s losses should the ruling be overturned in the future.

Motorola has already told the BBC it plans to appeal the decision, which covers two of the systems used in its smartphones, but not the mechanism used in the Xoom tablet, which requires the user to swipe in a circle. 

Mueller suggests that, while it will be relatively easy for Motorola to update its devices with a different unlock system, this will still result in a ‘degradation of the user experience’, which may have been Apple’s goal all along.

"There’s no question that they can keep their products available by modifying them,” Mueller writes.

"If MMI wants to play it safe in Germany, it implements [the Xoom unlock system] across its entire product range. That one was cleared by the regional court and is safe at least until the end of the appeals proceeding. 

"But... it’s not very intuitive, and I don’t think it can work well on typical smartphone screens.”

With Apple sitting on almost US$100 billion in cash reserves and Motorola Mobility on the verge of being purchased by Google for US$12.5 billion, it seems there’s little chance of either company giving up the legal battle any time soon. 

Image source here.