Apple wins preliminary sales ban on Motorola phones and tablets in Germany

Apple could enforce the injunction if it pays a bond of €25 million, the court said

Apple won a preliminary sales ban on Motorola phones and tablets in Germany on Thursday when the regional court of Munich ruled that Motorola infringes on a touchscreen-related patent, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Apple sued Google-owned Motorola Mobility for infringing on its "list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touchscreen display" patent, said Stefanie Ruhwinkel, spokeswoman for the Munich court. The patent is also known as the "overscroll bounce" or "rubber band" patent and allows pages, documents or photos on touchscreen devices to scroll past their boundaries and bounce back when users release their fingers from the screen.

The Munich court ruled that Motorola Mobility infringes on the patent with its smartphones and tablet computers, said Ruhwinkel. Infringing devices include the Motorola Milestone XT720, the Motorola DEFY, the Motorola Atrix and Motorola XOOM, which all use the Android OS.

Motorola is not allowed to use the patent in Germany, said Ruhwinkel, "so you could call it a sales ban."

Besides an injunction, Apple also demanded that Motorola disclose its sales figures in the German market so the damages of the infringement could be calculated. It also demanded a recall of all the infringing products from the distribution channel and that devices be destroyed. All of Apple's demands were "granted in full" by the court, said Ruhwinkel.

The destruction of the devices "is to make sure they won't be sold again," she said. Consumers don't have to worry that their devices will be destroyed, she added. "They are not convicted, Motorola is."

The verdict, however, is not yet final. The judge granted Apple a preliminary injunction. Apple could enforce the injunction if it posts a bond of ¬25 million (US$32 million), if Motorola Mobility decides not to appeal the verdict or if the appeals court confirms the verdict, said Ruhwinkel.

Motorola could also decide to change the software used in its products and work around the infringement, which is what Samsung did last year.

It remains unclear what is going to happen next. Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an email that he had no "specific comment on today's decision." Motorola did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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