A regional court in Munich, Germany, has ruled that most of Motorola Mobility’s (NYSE: MMI) smartphone products infringe on Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) slide-to-unlock image patent.

users of Apple’s iOS tools slide a virtual button around the monitor in an effort to “release” the tool — in other phrases, wake it up and make it able to just accept other enter. It’s supposed to stop so-referred to as pocket dials on the tool’s contact-sensitive reveal. users additionally have the opportunity to use a four-digit PIN for extra security.

However, it seems Motorola’s use of the slide-to-unlock idea was too similar to Apple’s. The court ruled on three implementations — two on smartphones and the third on the Xoom tablet.

Motorola won over the tablet’s implementation. This is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note’s implementation, wherein the user swipes from inside a circle to another, bigger circle outside, patent consultant Florian Mueller said.

“We are going to appeal,” Motorola spokesperson Christa Smith told MacNewsWorld.

Apple is expected to contest the Munich court’s ruling on the Xoom, Mueller suggested.

Cupertino did not respond to our request for comment for this story.

A Patent Ruling in Old Munchen
Apple’s patent “covers gestures along a predefined, displayed path,” Mueller told MacNewsWorld.

The reasoning of the court is easy, said Carl Howe, a vice chairman at the Yankee group. “Apple’s claims in its patent have been each specific and defensible with regards to its being an Apple invention,” he told MacNewsWorld. “As such, Apple is entitled to resolve who gets to make use of this technology and who doesn’t.”

The Munich court’s ruling is a permanent injunction that Apple can enforce at its own risk against a bond, Mueller said. However, it won’t impact Motorola much because that company will only have to modify its products to continue selling them in Germany.

Going Through Changes
Motorola is already planning to make a modification. The ruling “concerns a software feature related to phone unlocking in select Motorola devices sold in Germany” and the company “has implemented a new design for the feature,” the company’s Smith said.

However, she declined to discuss this new feature further.

The change would possibly contain enforcing the slide-to-liberate circle within the Xoom across Motorola merchandise impacted by way of the ruling, Mueller opined.

This “would be a relatively minor patch changing from the infringing method to the non-infringing method,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told MacNewsWorld. “As things go, this is more annoying than damaging.”

However, the change may not be of as much use as Motorola might think because Cupertino “has a point if it says that moving outside a circle is also a gesture that follows a predefined path,” Mueller pointed out.

Further, changing to the slide-to-unlock circle used in the Xoom tablet may degrade the user experience on Motorola smartphones, Mueller suggested. Among this approach’s drawbacks is that it is not very intuitive, he said.

Fallout, Boy!
The ruling will make slide-to-unlock “a distinctive differentiating feature between Apple products and Android ones,” Carl Howe, a vice president at the Yankee Group, told MacNewsWorld.

“Apple gets to use swipe to unlock, while everyone else won’t,” Howe explained. “And because this is one of the first things anyone does with a tablet, it will likely become a signature difference.”

Apple’s additionally the use of its slide-to-unlock patent in complaints against the opposite two leading Android instrument makers — Samsung and HTC, Mueller said. “on every occasion they make a decision to sue a fourth Android tool maker, there’s a great opportunity that slide-to-release will be a part of the dispute again.”

Amazon Steps Into the Slide Zone?
It’s possible that Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) might be the next target of an Apple slide-to-unlock lawsuit.

“The Amazon Kindle fireplace also makes use of this probably infringing straight [side to side] slide method [that’s patented by Apple],” Enderle mentioned. “this suggests there could also be some further problems between Apple and Amazon coming”

Apple may feel the need to turn its guns on Amazon because of the Kindle Fire’s strong showing. Strong sales drove the Kindle Fire from zero percent of the global media tablet market in Q3, 2011 to 14 percent in Q4, IHS iSuppli found. Meanwhile, the iPad’s share fell from 57 percent to 39 percent in that period.

[Late Apple CEO] Steve Jobs’ “ultimate orders to his felony division and executive staff have been to kill Android,” Enderle mentioned. “they’re going to use each angle they are able to to find to carry out the ones orders.”

Google Gets Up and Goes
Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent Office published a patent application from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) for input to a locked computing device.

This will let Google offer Android OEMs two new methods for unlocking their devices, according to Patently Apple said.

One method uses voice recognition; the other uses a two-icon approach where the user drags the cursor from a command-related icon on the device’s screen to an unlock icon elsewhere on the screen. This will unlock the device and then trigger the command.

“I don’t know the way Google will make use of this era, but what i will be able to say is that this doesn’t change anything approximately Google’s liability for infringement of Apple’s slide-to-free up patent,” Mueller stated. “by enforcing patent A, you’ll be able to infringe patent B, and in that case you need permission from each proper holders.”

The change will probably be less intuitive than Apple’s method, Enderle speculated.

However, the Yankee Group’s Howe is more appreciative of Google’s new gesture technologies as outlined in the patent,.

“To its credit, Google has innovated by means of using different gestures with Android in anticipation of [Apple’s] patent being upheld,” Howe mentioned. “In some ways, that is what patents were meant to do — require inventors to get a hold of new, not-prior to now-used answers to problems; it’s an example of patents working as they have been meant to, something that’s been briefly provide in recent times.”