Apple and Motorola have been fighting it out in the German court to settle out various patent infringement cases against each other. In the latest development, a German Federal Patent Court ruled Apple’s “Slide To Unlock” patent as invalid. The patent under consideration was European Patent EP1964022 for “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image”. After a day long court session, the German court invalidated the patent even after Apple’s attempt to save the patent’s validity by presenting 14 proposed claim amendments. The German court noted that Apple’s patent claim does not meet with the requirements set by the European patent law and the swiping gesture is just an enhancement to previous art.
The slide to unlock mechanism is currently being used in some form by almost all smartphone manufacturers and OSes with minor workarounds to Apple’s solution to implement the same functionality. Apple’s claimed inventive step was deemed to be a mere software implementation by the German court and it concluded that Apple is not solving any technical problem as such.
Apple is having a mixed set of responses from the German court lately. In February 2012, Apple was granted a permanent injunction against Motorla over the improper use of slide to unlock patent but another court in Germany overruled and levelled it agains Samsung a month later. Apple is now expected to appeal against the ruling given recently but the chances of expecting a positive outcome seams bleak.