Germany’s top civil court on Tuesday invalidated Apple’s swipe to unlock input patent, ruling that it is not sophisticated enough to be awarded patent protection, backing an earlier patent tribunal ruling in favor of Lenovo Group Ltd.’s Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.
Swipe-to-unlock was not an invention by Apple, the court claims, seeing that it was already suggested by “the state of the art.” The court wrote the following:
“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art. The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”
The ruling is similar to one that favored Motorola back in 2013. Apple had gained an injunction against Motorola in 2012 on the grounds that its use of an unlock method on its Android phones violated the Cupertino firm’s swipe to unlock patent. That case is still pending on appeal, but Tuesday’s ruling could mean there will be a ruling in favor of Motorola.
Samsung was found to be guilty of infringing the same patent back in May 2014. Many observers have since criticized that ruling, claiming that Apple did not suffer “irreparable harm” from Samsung’s use of the patent.
It remains to be seen what effect Tuesday’s ruling will possibly have on Apple’s legal cases going forward.