Los Angeles – Motorola was recently granted an injunction by the Mannheim Regional Court in Germany prohibiting competitor Apple from selling mobile devices infringing on two patents owned by Motorola. The lawsuit concerned two European Motorola patents, one covering “a method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system,” as well as a patent for a “multiple pager status synchronization system and method.” Both European Motorola patents in issue are equivalent to current U.S. patents.
Rather than defending its devices, as it has done in countless international patent actions, it appears that Apple defaulted in this case. A default judgment occurs when a party neglects or refuses to take some critical action, such as responding to the complaint or appearing in court to defend against the lawsuit. While Apple’s decision not to defend itself may have been a procedural tactic, the judgment is still in effect barring Apple products from sale.
However, the effect of the injunction is being called into question as Motorola elected to sue Apple rather than its regional subsidiary. The injunction therefore is effective against Apple but is perhaps ineffective against its regional subsidiary, commenters say.
Furthermore, because the case was decided through a default judgment, there was no need for an adjudication on the merits. It may therefore be difficult to predict the potential outcomes of the litigation. In this case, the default judgment is appealable. Certainly, if Apple is prohibited from selling products in Germany, Europe’s strongest economy and largest market, it will be a devastating blow to the company’s international revenue stream. However, even if Apple does eventually lose the case on the merits, it is likely that the mobile devices giant would negotiate some type of license agreement with Motorola, allowing Apple to continue to offer its tablets, smartphones, and computers in Germany.