A German court ruled in Apple’s favor on Thursday — twice — on separate allegations that Motorola Mobility had infringed on Apple’s patents on slide-to-unlock. A Munich regional court said certain Motorola phones infringed on the German part of a broader European patent. It’s Apple’s first patent victory over Motorola ever.
The rulings affect the Motorola Flipout, Milestone, Milestone XT720 and Defy. Although the rulings open the door for Apple to block the sale of those devices in Germany, Motorola has already said the judgment would have no impact on sales since it was planning to implement a new way to unlock the phone that wouldn’t infringe on Apple’s patent.
What that new unlocking method would be isn’t clear, and Motorola, which was recently acquired by Google, has said it will appeal the ruling. If it does end up needing to change how its phones unlock, however, a recent patent awarded to Google could be a clue.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month awarded Google a patent on a certain type of slide-to-unlock (excerpts are viewable in the gallery below). Among the many points covered in the patent, there’s one that specifies the user might slide an icon (from a choice of icons) in a certain direction to simiultaneously unlock the device and launch an app, such as email. There’s also a provision for unlocking the device by voice.
Such unlocking methods clearly aren’t present on Apple’s iOS devices and would theoretically put Motorola products in the clear. However, Florian Mueller of Foss Patents suspects that as Apple tightens its grip over slide-to-unlock, there may be a general “degradation of the user experience” on Android devices.
What do you think is the best way to unlock a phone? Let us know in the comments.
Google Slide-to-Unlock Schematic
Apple readies $10,000 prize for 25 billionth app milestone
It keeps growing. More downloads, more hard-to-comprehend milestones. This time, Apple's gearing up to hit its 25 billionth app download and it's got another $10,000 prize for the lucky soul that claims that very app. The App Store doubled its download count in the last year -- and then some -- so it's got good reason to be in a celebratory mood. To enter, you can either go grab yourself an app or enter via the prize form below. $10,000 for a random download? Count us in.