Apple Patent Win Could Mean Android Trouble in Germany: Report

Google could have to recall its Android tablets and smartphones in the German market after losing a patent-infringement case there to Apple.

A German court ruled in favor of Apple Sept. 13 in a patent-infringement case with Google's Motorola unit, throwing the possibility of a sales ban there or a German recall on Android smartphones and tablets into the realm of possibility.

"The dispute focused on the iOS system's bounce-back list feature [also called "rubberbanding"] which Motorola was found to have infringed," according to a story on the court decision in Munich.

"Apple has to formally request a sales ban before it would come into effect," the BBC reported. "Google has not issued a statement, but is expected to appeal."

A story in The (London) Telegraph said that the judge in the case, Munich Judge Peter Guntz, ruled that "Motorola had infringed Apple's 'overscroll bounce' technology, which enables users to move documents over the screen of their device and let them bounce back to the center after releasing their fingers."

The German court verdict imperils popular devices such as the Motorola Droid Razr, according to The Telegraph story.

Google and Apple have been trading patent-infringement allegations in courts around the world in connection with Google's Android mobile operating system and Apple's iOS. In this German case, Google sued Apple, challenging the "validity of the patent which describes a way to make a list react as if it was on a rubberband when a user scrolls beyond its end," the story reported.

Google's Motorola unit and Apple aren't the only mobile companies at each other's throats in the courts lately.

On Aug. 24, Apple won a $1 billion patent-infringement verdict against Samsung in a California court. In that case, Apple alleged that Samsung illegally infringed on Apple patents in the designs of Samsung's Android-equipped mobile devices. Samsung has vowed that it will appeal that verdict and continue to fight Apple's allegations.

Google bought the Motorola Mobility unit in May for $12.5 billion as it continues to build up its power and holdings in the battle for a bigger chunk of the mobile marketplace, which continues to grow annually.

The latest court decision in Germany is an apparent extension of what has been playing out as an escalating market war between Apple and Google over the last six months. Apple previously announced that it is removing Google's YouTube and Google Maps apps from its devices and replacing them with its own services. Meanwhile, Google has been bringing out Siri-like voice-activation services for its Android mobile operating system, which is gaining developers and market share and becoming a keen competitor against Apple and iOS. Google is even bringing out a version of its voice services for iPhones and iPads to take on Apple in its own backyard.

Meanwhile, a report circulated Aug. 31 that the string of court battles between Apple and Google has recently been motivating the CEOs of the two companies to meet in private talks to try to resolve some of their intellectual-property disputes.

The discussions between Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook so far have included key topics such as the mobile patent disputes that have had the two companies at odds for much of this year so far, the report said. While the content of the calls so far has not yet been disclosed, a possible subject is how Google and Apple might agree to a "truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google's Android mobile software."

Google and Apple have been at odds much more frequently in 2012 as they drift from being partners in the mobile marketplace to taking on more direct roles as key competitors. When Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007, it partnered with Google for much-needed content services, but that relationship has been strained in recent months.

The Apple-Google battles follow Google's development and the widespread popularity of its Android mobile phone operating system, which is in direct competition with Apple's iOS and products.

According to a July report from data analysis firm Chitika, the race between the two mobile operating systems is evening up as Android development is perhaps finally catching up to iOS development in terms of the interest of app developers from around the world.

Google escalated its battle with Apple earlier in August when its Motorola unit sued Apple for patent infringement, claiming that Apple has violated patents related to email notifications, video players and location reminders as well as patents related to Apple's Siri voice-recognition program. The patent claims, which are in Motorola's second lawsuit against Apple recently, involve designs in Apple iPads, iPhones and various Mac computers, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Samsung and Apple are the first and second best-selling smartphone vendors in the market, respectively, according to July figures from research firm IDC.