Motorola Mobility (and Google) give Cupertino a taste of its own patent medicine
Following a loss three weeks ago in Germany's Mannheim Regional Court, Apple (AAPL) late Thursday informed German iPhone customers that e-mail would no longer be "pushed" to their phones -- BlackBerry style -- through their iCloud or MobileMe services.
Pending Apple's appeal, which could take months, iPhone users in Germany will have to retrieve their e-mail the old-fashioned way: by "pulling" it manually or by configuring their iPhones to check for new messages periodically.
It's the first time iPhone users anywhere in the world have inconvenienced by the ongoing smartphone patent wars.
At issue in this case is a Motorola patent dating back to the pager era -- one of 17,000 patents Google (GOOG) picked up when it acquired Motorola Mobility (MMI) for $12.5 billion last August. Lawyers representing Motorola claimed that Apple's push e-mail system infringed their patent and a German judge -- applying the relatively lax standards of the Mannheim court -- had to agree.
What makes this particular technology different from most of the patents Motorola has accused Apple of infringing, FOSS Patent's Florian Mueller explains, is that it does not appear to be essential to any industry standard. Companies are required to license standards-essential patents under so-called FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms.
Microsoft (MSFT) this week joined Apple in lodging a formal antitrust complaint with the European Commission for what they claim is Motorola's anticompetitive use of standards-essential patents.
Apple has been waging what Steve Jobs called "thermonuclear war" against competitors he perceived as having "stolen" proprietary -- i.e. not standards-essential -- Apple technology.
" I don't blame Motorola for seeking the enforcement of an injunction based on a patent that is not standard-essential," writes Mueller, who has been a vocal critic of Motorola's FRAND lawsuits. "This is fair."
"As a result of Apple's own enforcement of patents," he writes, "Android users see this happen all the time, with features either being removed or hobbled. For example, as a Samsung customer, I no longer get the overscroll bounceback feature on my device; I have to unlock my device with the inferior slide-to-unlock circle (last week, Apple won a German ruling against Motorola based on the relevant patent); and a few months ago, after I updated my firmware, I noticed that turning pages in the Android photo gallery was different (and less convenient)."
A blogger uncovers the $2 billion dispute behind Friday's bizarre back and forth
Apple (AAPL) watchers were shocked Friday when the company, in response to a court-ordered injunction, removed the iPhone 4 and 3GS from its online Apple Store in Germany.
The injunction was suspended before the end of the day -- and the products restored -- but the bizarre incident left analysts and investors wondering what the hell was going on.
FOSS MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 4, 2012 11:25 AM ET
Apple forced to pull older iPhones off its online store, faces an injunction on push e-mail
UPDATE: Sales of Apple's iPhones resumed Friday. See here.
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It was a crazy day for Apple (AAPL) in Germany.
First it removed the iPhone 4 and 3GS from its German online store -- the first time, as far as we know, that the company has been forced to stop selling a product because of alleged MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 3, 2012 10:56 AM ET
Mixed results from a 12-week Kantar Group snapshot of the walk-up to Christmas
The launch of the iPhone 4S lifted Apple's (AAPL) share of the smartphone market rather dramatically the U.S., the U.K. and Australia between early September and the end of November.
But Apple lost ground just as dramatically against less-expensive Google (GOOG) Android phones on the economically troubled continent, according to results released Thursday by the Kantar Group, a research MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 22, 2011 6:20 AM ET
Waitin', whoopin' and hollerin' in seven countries and four languages
Apple (AAPL) launched the iPhone 4S Friday in Australia, Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Canada and the U.S.
Videos below the fold as they come in.
See also our report from New York City, 17 days in the iPhone line: Wet, cold and smelling like Cheetos.Philip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 14, 2011 4:39 AM ET
Deliveries have started to arrive in Germany. Mine left Alaska last night.
Customers who got up early -- or stayed up late -- to pre-order Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone have started to reap their rewards.
Although deliveries were not due until end-of-day Friday, Oct. 14 -- the day of the official launch -- MacRumors reports that several customers in Germany have already received theirs.
Mine left Anchorage, Alaska, Monday at 11:11 p.m. local MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 11, 2011 10:04 AM ET
The world's No. 1 maker of Android devices is feeling the heat on two fronts
Samsung suffered a pair of setbacks last week, although whether they are substantive or superficial remains to be seen. One called into question its impressive sales figures, the other its legal right to sell devices that bear such a striking resemblance to Apple's (AAPL) iPhones and iPads.
Shipments vs. Sales. Samsung made headlines last year when it announced MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 4, 2011 6:27 AM ET
A well-documented piece of street art appeared Friday at a Hamburg construction site
A group calling itself the .Wav Collective, after a Windows audio file format, has posted a video showing a pair of street artists disguised as workmen cordoning off a section of the Jungfernstieg in downtown Hamburg Friday morning, hoisting a ladder against the construction barricade at the site of Apple's (AAPL) newest retail in the city, and calmly MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 5, 2011 6:13 AM ET
Unable to fill U.S. orders, it will make the device unavailable in 25 more countries on Friday
Last week, for reasons I'd rather not examine too closely, I spent the better part of an hour waiting outside an Apple retail outlet in center city Philadelphia only to be told, 50 minutes before the store was scheduled to open, that its promised overnight shipment of iPad 2s had not arrived.
It was an MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 22, 2011 1:41 PM ET
This one for Apple's (AAPL) first retail store in Frankfurt, Germany
Thanks to reader Ron in Palo Alto, Calif., for the link and tommyde in Frankfurt for the camera work.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]Philip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 23, 2010 1:51 PM ET
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