Apple has been hit with their first major legal loss against Motorola, and has been ordered to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 3G iPad 2 from their online store today over patent licensing concerns.
According to FOSS Patents, the decision appears to be due to a ruling passed down in December over a wireless data related patent that is seen as essential to the use of 3G in a mobile device, and Motorola has secured a $133 million bond to ensure that Apple complies.
The ban applies only to Apple’s direct online sales, however, and German customers will still be able to obtain the devices from various retail stores in the country. German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur quotes an official statement from Apple on the matter (translated):
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.
The issue seems to be related to licensing terms. If Apple and Motorola can come to an agreement over cost and licensing for the patent, the injunction could be lifted. The iPhone 4S remains unaffected due to its use of a Qualcomm chip rather than the Infineon chip used in the banned devices.
Apple issued the following statement to BusinessWeek in response:
“Apple believes this old pager patent is invalid and we’re appealing the courts decision,” company spokesman Alan Hely said in an e-mailed statement.
Samsung has also attempted to enforce essential 3G patents against Apple, and is currently being investigated by the European Commission for antitrust violations by refusing to license the patents to Apple in a fair and reasonable manner.
Motorola has also been awarded an injunction against Apple related to iCloud, but is yet to attempt to enforce a ban based on the ruling. Apple plans to file appeals regarding both decisions.