Apple pulls iPhones/iPads in patent dispute

Apple has stopped offering older models of its iPhone and 3G-based iPads at its German online store in response to an injunction won by Motorola.

Apple pulls iPhones/iPads in patent dispute

“While some iPad and iPhone models are not available through Apple’s online store in Germany right now, customers should have no problem finding them at one of our retail stores or an authorised reseller,” Apple spokesman Alan Hely said.

On Apple’s German site, attempts to order iPhone 3G and 4 models and 3G/UMTS-based iPads produced a “currently not available” message. The latest iPhone version 4S and Wi-fi-only iPads remain on sale.

A regional German court in Mannheim ruled on 9 December that Apple Sales International – European sales subsidiary of Apple in Cork, Ireland – must stop selling or distributing mobile devices that infringe certain Motorola cellular communications patents. The patent in question deals concerns the “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system”.

Motorola Mobility said at the time it had been negotiating with Apple and offering the company “reasonable licensing terms and conditions since 2007”.

To enforce the injunction Motorola Mobility had to pay about 100 million euros (£83 million) as a bond.

Apple, which has other patent infringement cases pending in Germany, said that it plans to appeal. “Apple is appealing this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago,” a company spokesman said.

Apple is locked in mobile patent infringement battles with a number of companies, including Samsung and HTC, in several countries. It recently failed in a court bid to stop US sales of Samsung’s Galaxy line of products.

iCloud under threat?

Apple may also be forced to adapt its MobileMe and iCloud services in Germany, after Motorola won a second patent victory regarding “two-way communications between pagers and other devices”, which was granted a decade ago.

If Motorola decides to enforce the judgement, Apple may be forced to switch off push email, according to a report on the BBC, instead forcing users to set their device to check for new mail manually.

Apple claims the patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.

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