The Android Pile-Up On Apple In Europe: Motorola Gets Injunction In Germany

Apple’s latest Android nemesis in Europe? Not Samsung, and not a small-time Spanish tablet maker, but Motorola: the company, currently getting acquired by Google (NSDQ: GOOG), has managed to get an injunction ruling in Germany against Apple’s mobile devices, which Motorola (NYSE: MMI) claims violate its patents. But from the looks of it, this isn’t as serious as it sounds for now.

According to this story from IDG, a district court in Mannheim last week made a default ruling in Motorola’s favor in a patent case because Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) actually failed to show up for the hearing. The injunction is not yet in effect, which means Apple has time still to appeal the decision.

Motorola has been suing Apple in court over violations related to two wireless patents, although this most recent ruling does not specify which Apple devices violate the patents. According to Florian Mueller:

1. EP (European Patent) 1010336 (B1) on a “method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system”; this is the European equivalent of U.S. Patent No. 6,359,898
2. EP (European Patent) 0847654 (B1) on a “multiple pager status synchronization system and method”; this is the European equivalent of U.S. Patent No. 5,754,119

It’s not specified in the court documents which Apple devices are infringing on the patents, although Motorola alleges that Apple has been infringing since April 2003, so the devices covered by the suit extend beyond the iPhone and iPad.

Meanwhile, it appears that there are two further Motorola cases against Apple scheduled for November 18 and December 2.

This is not the only European skirmish between Apple and Motorola in Europe: during a hearing related to the Samsung case against Apple over FRAND violations, it emerged that Motorola’s Xoom tablet is also the subject of an Apple complaint. Motorola is planning to launch the newest edition of that tablet, which was the first to use Google’s tablet-specific Honeycomb edition of the Android OS. However, it has not proven to be a big seller so far.

That Dutch case involving Samsung, meanwhile, has also seen a development: the EU has now started to get involved and is investigating the FRAND software licensing agreements between Samsung and Apple to verify that they are as “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” as they are intended to be.

For the last several years, Motorola has been losing market share in Europe to other smartphone makers, going from 16.1 percent of the market five years ago to just 0.7 percent today. It’s unclear whether Google’s purchase of Motorola will translate to a renewed focus on the region, but if Motorola has its way it will at least be able to swipe away some of its key competition.