German court invalidates Apple slide-to-unlock patent

Apple can appeal the decision to a higher court

A German court has invalidated an Apple patent for the slide-to-unlock feature on mobile phones, according to a published report.

The Thursday ruling by Bundespatentgericht, Germany's federal patent court, is a victory for Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility. Apple has sought injunctions prohibiting the sale of devices from both companies.

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The Bundespatentgericht ruling can be appealed by Apple to the Bundesgerichtshof, Germany's federal court of justice, wrote tech patent blogger Florian Mueller, who originally reported the ruling. Mueller is a paid consultant for tech companies in addition to blogging about mobile patents.

The German court ruled that none of 14 amendments Apple offered could salvage the patent, Mueller wrote.

The German court ruled that the Apple patent does not meet the technical requirements necessary to get a patent, he wrote.

Apple won an injunction in the Munich I Regional Court against Motorola Mobility in February 2012. Motorola appealed that decision.

In March 2012, the Mannheim Regional Court suspended an Apple lawsuit against Samsung. That court stayed proceedings until the German Patent and Trade Mark Office makes a decision regarding the validity of the so-called utility model that protects Apple's slide-to-unlock feature.

Representatives of Apple and Motorola weren't immediately available for comment and neither was anyone with the German court. Samsung declined comment.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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