Apple and Samsung each lose a patent lawsuit in Mannheim

Apple and Samsung had patent claims against one another dismissed, but the court still has ten more cases concerning them to consider

Apple and Samsung Electronics each saw patent lawsuits they had filed against one another dismissed by a German court on Friday. Samsung expects to appeal its dismissal.

Samsung had accused Apple of infringing one of its patents declared essential to the UMTS 3G smartphone standard, while Apple claimed one of its user interface patents was infringed by the unlock screen in some of Samsung's Android devices.

"The competent civil court dismissed both actions," said Mannheim District Court spokesman Joachim Bock.

Samsung expects to appeal the dismissal of its 3G patent lawsuit, said company spokesman Brendon Gore. He said the company will decide when it has reviewed the written grounds for Friday's judgment, which the court has not yet released.

In December, Samsung filed a separate action with the same court alleging that Apple infringed four more of its patents.

"We will continue to assert our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple's claims," Gore wrote in an email.

Apple also asserted the slide-to-unlock patent dismissed in Mannheim on Friday in a separate case brought against Motorola in a different German court. Apple won the case in Munich last month, although Motorola said it will appeal.

Although Apple had nothing new to say on the cases, it repeated its previous comment: "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface, and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong," wrote Apple spokesman Alan Hely.

Patent expert Florian Mueller has been closely watching the legal battles pitting Apple against Samsung and Motorola.

"The whole issue here that made Apple lose, for the time being, the slide-to-unlock patent case against Samsung is just the interpretation of certain key terms ("predefined", "displayed", "path")," he wrote on his blog about software patents, commenting on the judge's ruling.

But Apple has another case involving slide-to-unlock pending against Samsung in the Mannheim court, according to Mueller. That case involves "a utility model, a special German kind of intellectual property right," he wrote, and is more likely to go in Apple's favor when the court rules on March 16.

That would be more bad news for Samsung which, wrote Mueller, "still hasn't been able to enforce any intellectual property right anywhere on this planet against Apple."

The Mannheim court is still considering ten further intellectual property lawsuits between the two companies, having now dismissed four of them, according to Mueller.

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Peter Sayer

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