I like Apple products. God knows I own and use enough of them. But, I hate their out-sourcing business practices and their world-wide anti-Android lawsuits. So, when I learned this morning that Motorola Mobility had won a permanent injunction against Apple's iCloud service in Germany because of a patent violation and Motorola had followed that up with another patent victory, which has forced Apple to take all its older phones, 3G and 4 and all iPads off its German online store (German language link), I was pleased.
True, Apple can still sell its current iPhone 4S in Germany, but this is a real kick in the teeth for Apple and its patent attack ways. Apple is putting the best face it can on its defeat. An Apple spokesperson said, "Even if some iPad and iPhone models are currently not available in our online store in Germany, customers should have no problem finding these devices in our stores or from authorized dealers." Sure. Right. The bottom line is that iCloud's functionality has been crippled and German Apple customers will have trouble getting their favorite mobile products.
As always, the patents that are being used in these cases seem dubious at best to me. In the case of iCloud, Motorola used an old pager-related patent to prevent Apple from using push technology to send e-mail automatically to iCloud enabled services. Push technology, oh yeah, no one thought of that before the 90s!
The Motorola patent that's knocked most iPhone models and iPads off German stores covers General packet radio service (GPRS). This is the data transmission standard built on top of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication). GPRS is used for data communication on 2G and 3G GSM networks.
This patent is also stupid. It describes a way to perform a countdown function over a 3G connection. You know, "Ten seconds to complete your download, three, two, one, download complete." Who could ever have thought of that one!
Apple argued that this countdown mechanism wasn't essential to data transmission. I agree, but hey, what does anyone with common sense know about software patents? Therefore, Apple tried to defeat this patent lawsuit with a Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory terms (FRAND) defense (PDF Link), The German court didn't buy this defense.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, should get on the phone to Google and Samsung's top brass and agree to stop wasting everyone's time and money with all the "Sue you, sue me" patent lawsuits and start competing in the market place rather than in the court room. That way, the stockholders would save money-international intellectual property lawsuits aren't cheap!--customers would get cheaper products, and all of us could all get back to comparing products instead of lawsuits.
Apple iPhone Germany store Image via Apple/ZDNet.