You remember that Slide to Unlock patent Apple was handed back in October? Turns out the lawsuits are going to get uglier, if a victory secured by Apple in Germany today is any indication. According to FOSS Patents, the Munich I Regional Court just issued an injunction against Motorola smartphones in Germany, finding that Motorola does indeed violate Apple’s patent on slide to unlock technology with the lockscreen in their Gingerbread UI overlay.
The ruling covers traditional Motorola phones that feature the slide to unlock feature, but not on Motorola’s Xoom tablet, which utilizes the circular unlock feature found in Android 3.0 Honeycomb and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Motorola will likely appeal the decision, opening the door for Apple to re-challenge the circular unlock feature found in the newest Google operating systems. If a higher court rules that even the circular unlock feature is in violation of Apple’s patent, it could spell trouble for Motorola (and Google), which will need to come up with a different methodology for unlocking a device from the lockscreen, or do away with the lockscreen altogether.
We’re sure the scope of the slide to unlock patent infringement cases will spread over coming months, and expect we’ll see some more cases in the U.S. before too long (as you recall, Apple filed suit against the Galaxy Nexus - and Android 4.0 - just a few days ago). If the ruling out of Germany is any indication, it spells potential trouble for Google’s Android OS. We will, of course, bring you more patent news as the cases develop.