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March 3, 2012

German courtroom dismisses two patent lawsuits between Apple and Samsung

The Mannheim state court in German has ruled on two cases involving Samsung and Apple, dismissing both of them. This includes a suit brought by Samsung against apple concerning essential 3G/UMTS patents as well as one of the two "slide to unlock" patent brought by Apple against Samsung.

According to an article by BBC, Samsung was disappointed with the ruling and planned to appeal against the verdict. Samsung also said that a separate case involving four patent infringements is still pending in Mannheim.

Apple has so far not commented on the cases, and could wait for the other "slide to unlock" case before taking further action.

Apple's lost first "slide to unlock" case
"Slide to unlock" is a feature of IOS  where the touchscreen can be unlocked be swiping fingers from one end of the screen to the other. Apple owns a patent on it and has been including this feature since the first iPhone.

As pointed out by Foss Patents, the decision on the other case is expected in around two weeks, on March 16.

There is a significant probability that, at least in this case, Apple will prevail over Samsung. And as Foss Patents pointed out, the outcome of today's case may not have any material impact on the upcoming case.

Samsung's essential patent case also thrown out
Samsung today lost it's third patent case involving standards essential 3G/UMTS patents. The patent in question which covers certain computations, but 3G/UMTS specifications do not require those computations, rather only the result. Hence the patents are not directly required for devices.

Even if Samsung would have won the case, Apple could have used the FRAND antitrust defense, the same it used against Motorola earlier and won.

Essential Patents
Google and its partners including Motorola (to be acquired by Google) and Samsung have been trying to fight Apple/Microsoft using standards essential patents, but so far have not been successful anywhere.

On Feb 27, Apple won an important case to suspend the enforcement of Motorola's standard essential patent while Microsoft has already filed a case with EC against Motorola.

EU also has not been very appreciative of using standards essential patents to fight legal cases and had shown similar concerns while approving the Google-Motorola deal.

But both Samsung and Google/Motorola have deep pockets and will continue their cases as long as possible. Expect the fight to get fiercer in the coming days.

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