Feb 16 AT 11:52 AM Anthony Domanico 47 Comments

Apple lands injunction against Motorola in Germany over Slide to Unlock patent

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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.

Via: Engadget

Source: FOSS Patents

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • Bryan Stoner


  • txbluesman

    Well, Here we go!!! Apple is just mad because after they came out with the iphone and ipad they went on a coffee break and got passed by Google and Android devices. Now they are trying to slow things down in the courts so they can TRY to catch up. LOL!!!

    • Bryan Stoner

      I had a REALLY LONG response for this but to sum it up: They have their fucking hooks in popular culture. They really don’t need to catch up, nor do they care.

      Personally it’s like people blindly follow Apple. I’ve thought about it over and over but I still have not found a way to break them.

      • txbluesman

        They have to be Samsunged!!!! LOL!!!

      • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

        I agree that people are blindly following Apple now — you can’t beat it with anything. Its success has less to do with its products, but more to do with mind-control. This can only be ended with self-destruction.

        The good news is, sooner or later, the empire will begin its self-destruction (history has shown us that again and again.)

        The bad news is, we can’t wait to see that day coming.

        In the meantime, we should enjoy being the secret smarter crowd ;-)

        I was an die-hard Apple followers in the 90s. I once owned 8 Macs. But I gave up on them after they abandoned Copland — put it this way, OS X is not what a real Mac OS should be (the traffic light min/max/close buttons violated almost everything the original Mac UI guideline promoted.) Back then, I enjoyed being the alternative, and secretly laughing at people using Windows. Today, it’s like going back to the 90s again.

        • spazby

          It will take time but people will realize that they have inferior products

      • Jon Garrett

        anonymous. they should hack the shit outta apple and expose them to the world.

    • jsweetser2

      I just got done reading Jobs’ biography, and i won’t lie. it was a good read. The one thing that stands out though, is the maniacal control that he bred into the company. Control of everything from how the product looks in low light, to what degree the corners of the applications are radiused. In the 80′s and 90′s this was ahead of it’s time, and provided for a niche market. Today, they have lost control as the ‘tablet/phone’ industry EXPLODED and i do believe two things will happen:

      Either Apple will spend all of it’s time trying to reign in the market, which is not possible – and still come out with nothing new and thus become the Commodore64 of the phone industry over time; or they will come out with a revolutionary product that will put competition on again, and lose interest in hurting the industry just for the sake of control.

      Only time will tell

  • Trinhbo

    I’m so tired of freaking Apple. [email protected]$#% Apple!

  • cmdr430

    Is it just me, or is it ironic that all of these companies are in bed together, yet are suing each other…. I have a iphone 4 and a Samsung GN, and both use the GOOGLE search…..

    • NotRelevent

      The best part is, that samsung is the one that makes Apple’s processors.

  • delinear

    The wording of this is so vague it’s bordering on insane: “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image”. Well that pretty much covers anything. “Performing gestures”, really? What can you do in terms of phone UI that doesn’t fall under that description – even typing in a password on an on screen keyboard would fall under “performing a gesture”, the gesture being tapping different points of the screen with a fingertip. And “on an unlock image”, well any visual display which you interact with is surely an “unlock image”, whether it’s a slider, a checkbox, a keyboard, etc. The wording of this makes it sound like the only options left are face unlock, some kind of voice recognition/audio unlock or hardware keys.

    For the love of god, will nobody in charge do anything about these insane patents? They are no longer fit for purpose, they are meant to encourage innovation by protecting inventors and encouraging licensing but they’re being used in exactly the opposite way, people who have invented nothing patent an existing common usage and then use the patent to tie competitors up in court.

    • Bryan Stoner

      I agree completely. They really are doing a great job at making the broadest claims possible.

      Let’s come up with an alternative to patents. We’ll make millioNS!! MuaHAHahaha!!

    • dcds

      What I find surprising is that you can patent every real world idea as long as you just need to “virtualize” the concept. And BANG! you’ve been granted a patent.

      The slide to unlock is just a trivial metaphor of the card unlock device that you find on hotel doors. It’s the second most trivial way to unlock something (to humans). The first one being the traditional key rotation on a key hole (hence my suggestion here a couple of days ago).

      Or maybe a gear “image” on the screen, that you need to unlock the virtual car (phone-car metaphor, I’m Apple-brilliant!) by sliding the gear “image” from the P to D position. I’d call that Easter Egg “iBogus”.

      That would throw in the face of people how absurd it is to patent real world metaphors by just “virtualizing” them.

      Seriously… it pisses me off that people game the system.

      • Paul Atreides

        Lightbulb! A key style unlock doesn’t sound bad. A circle with different icons in it, and simply rotate the circle to launch what u want, something similar to a dial/combination lock style.

      • masterpfa

        Remember people the patent isn’t for slide to unlock but…

        “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image”

        Which means if no image of a lock is portrayed on that unlock image, no infringement, i.e Samsung unlock image is just an image

        But Apples lawyers (the rich ones) will probably argue that it still is an infringement.

        So basically changing the type of unlock screen won’t work
        Instead let’s have slide to unlock sensors on the bodies of our phones or double tap on the power key, or mind unlock

        OK far fetched I know (as well as the fact Apple probably have these patented too!)

  • koorsr

    I could kinda see when Motorola had the two bars how it could be considered the same, but the current version where you basically move the entire half of the screen is definitely stretching it. And I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could find the circle to unlock in Ice Cream Sandwich is similar at all to Apple’s swipe to unlock.

    • dillybar

      Apple didnt actually invent the slide to unlock technology either. It was available two years before the iphone came out. They just patented before anyone else did, making it appear to be their idea. I guess this is what SJ meant by going thermonuclear on Android. Sue everyone for anything they think is their idea.

      • jonathan3579

        Steve Jobs… Oh no! More throw up in my mouth!

  • Alvin B.

    Just… fuck you Apple, fuck you and the patents you rode in on. This insane hate war is ensuring I will never touch an Apple product ever.

    • Bryan Stoner

      Honestly your response is what I wish every consumer would think. But the fact is they will never see Apple’s legal history. Media outlets are dead in love with Apple. Only specialized blogs like androidandme cover this. I HATEEE IT!!!

  • Ps3y3Ops

    I wonder when Apple got the patent for slide to unlock? I had slide to unlock on an HTC Windows 6.1 phone back in 2008! Regardless, Apple is a patent troll. End of story. They are also suing Motorola/Google in Germany to stop them from suing Apple over patent infringement. O_o I guess in Apple’s mindset they can sue whoever for whatever, but when the tables are turned, they feel like they’re getting picked on!


    • Dude

      Apple got slide to unlock patent in 2005.

  • Hall Lo

    Srsly this needs to be stop. This is freaking annoying.

  • jonathan3579

    FOSS Patents… Yep, that makes me throw up in my mouth too.

  • AsakuraZero

    there isnt a way to show this bullying to the courts or masses? its getting stupid… its not even funny

  • Kaote

    Just another no win situation for the consumers, thanks Apple.

  • Eric Rossman

    We should start a campaign “Apple thinks you are stupid”.

    The premise these patent suits are really asserting is that the general public can neither read a brand nor differentiate a logo. Today’s “slide-to-unlock” story is just adding yet another layer to the overall insult Apple is throwing in our faces.

  • http://www.jimtravis.com jimtravis

    Since I don’t password protect my devices, I find slide to unlock an unnecessary extra stroke With 3.0, and ICS, I have turned the unlock screen off in settings so when I hit the power button to wake from sleep, it immediately goes to my home screen eliminating that unnecessary (for me) step. If you password your device, I am sure Google could easily come up with a new way without infringing any patent. Eliminating slide to unlock completely would be a good thing IMO although I respect others like it.

  • inviolable

    This is getting so old. I’m gonna file for a slide to f- off patent and open source it to everyone but Apple.

  • Billy

    I am so tired of this crap … really. Slide to Unlock. Are you serious. I have so many words for this .. that I am not going to share!!!

  • OnIn2

    The solution is soooo simple…. ICS.

    The HW vendors keep bringing that weak a$$ schiit and get hammered. All they have to do is port ICS to their phones and the problem goes away.

    Why isn’t that job priority #1 ??

    Surely it’s cheaper than lawyers.

  • Shawn Clark

    F-You Apple…F-You…they so scared to reinvent shit boy I tell u!

  • masterpfa

    Someone is getting paid big time.

    I mean why don’t I just patent the idea
    “Holding an item in hand to communicate with a 3rd party”

    That way I can then sue everyone
    Tablet manufactures, pager manufacturers, Apple, and any other phone manufacturers, makers of microphones, dicta phones, cameras, cam corders, pen and pencil manufacturers.

    Has the world gone mad?
    The patent is absurd in that it wan’t specific enough.
    The courts,for even listening to these claims of “infringement”
    Common-sense for not telling Apple (or any such patent troll) to STFU

    (Just realised since writing this someone has already Patented my idea….oh poo!!!!)

  • fxle

    I guess we will see more Motorola phones updated to ICS then (or backported lockscreen in the worse case). “Thank you” Apple.

  • ashclepdia

    how bout somebody start a petition on change.org?
    something along the lines of “help stop apple from trying to limit innovation” and spread it everywhere

    • ashclepdia

      even if it doesn’t actually “do” anything it would at least open some peoples eyes to what’s happening

  • CTown

    I doubt they will do away with the lockscreen, as even KDE should have one (to replace the now useless screensavers) next release (about 5 months from now)!


  • Gr8Ray

    I hope they all get injunctions against each other, and none of them can sell phones. Because THAT would bring this stupid patent bullshit to a head, and maybe we’d finally get some reform.

  • Nathan D.

    Wow apple you just don’t give up! you are spending millions of dollars in court with little to no benefit if you win so there isn’t a point to all this if Google can just simply change it in like a month that fix the court issue.

  • cthonctic

    I really don’t get it. In the EU and especially in Germany, we do not have software patents (thankfully!). This is clearly a software patent and not a technical implementation so I really do not understand how this could be brought to bear here in Germany.

    As much as I despise Apple for it’s cheap attacks and general cultishness (and also MS for it’s unwavering FUD campaigns against both Linux and Android, while we’re at it), I really cringe at the thought of how useless and obstricting patents really are. This is a system that really needs some fundamental structural reform, or else we are going to paint ourselves into a corner with stupid lawsuits like this one hampering further development. *exasperated sigh*

  • Funem

    Slide to unlock was around two years before Apple even had the iPhone


    They were originally refused the patent in Europe, but the US likes to protect US companies so they granted them the patent. Apple bang on about people pinching their idead, seems its OK if they do it though.

    • Funem

      Sorry should have said “Apple bang on about people pinching their ideas” then again they may now patent “idead”

  • Dikembe

    My Sony Ericsson w380 had a physical slide to unlock in 2007.

    It has a picture of a key, and you push it to the right.

  • Anderson

    Apple is so ridiculous. Google should wake up and play that same ridiculous patent game as Apple. How was Apple able to add “Notification Centre” or patent something like “Face Unlock” is BEYOND ME!!
    for more discussion about this topic you can also visit http://www.motoask.com

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    Apple, you’re doing it wrong.