Apple Wins Slide to Unlock Against Motorola
On Thursday, February 16th, 2012 a German district court ruled that a gesture used by some Android software is covered by Apple’s slide to unlock patent. Motorola had been using a padlock image that was slid across the screen in order to unlock the device. The German court appeared to be concerned with the gesture itself and the result of the action of sliding an icon to unlock the device, making it ready for use.
Earlier this month, Motorola received an injunction forcing Apple to disable its data push feature in Germany. Apple has now attempted to turn the tables by winning its latest lawsuit which will force Motorola to redesign some of the features that control how to turn on its smart phones and tablets. Motorola has asserted that the ruling would not create a problem for sales of Motorola devices in Germany, Europe’s largest Smartphone market. Motorola has already implemented a new design feature allowing the company to continue sales in Germany.
Some have expressed strong feelings that Apple is winning the patent battle and Google is in trouble. For example, Florian Mueller has suggested that “[t] oday’s ruling is significant bad news for Android at large, and Google. . . . Today’s ruling … shows that the noose keeps tightening around Android’s neck in many ways.” Google has been trying to improve its intellectual property position by its recent purchase of Motorola Mobility as well as other patent rights. But, it may be too little too late, since Microsoft has asserted yet another complaint against Motorola, this time for the use of touch inputs on Android devices.
With both Microsoft and Apple going after Motorola and the Android platform, each is taking a different approach to the final goal of litigation. Apple has been seeking injunctions to stop the sales of Motorola devices outright, allowing Apple to expand its sales. Meanwhile, Microsoft has taken a different approach to its patent battles, seeking licensing and per device fees for infringement of its patents. Only time will tell which strategy will pay off in the end.
For more on when Apple first received its Slide to Unlock patent please see Locked Out: Apple Gets Patent for “Slide to Unlock” Feature by Brandon Marsh.