Apple loses another one; German court rules against Apple’s “Swipe-to-Unlock”

Soon after it lost to Samsung in the Apple vs Samsung lawsuit, Apple today suffered another blow in its long list of patent cases. The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany has canceled Apple’s patent for unlocking iPhones and iPads with a finger swipe citing that the patent in question was not a new invention.

The judges said that the European patent that Apple applied for in 2006 and was awarded in 2010, is not new and that a mobile phone from a Swedish company already exhibited these features before Apple’s devices did.

Thus maintaining the decision passed by the German patents court, which Apple had pleaded against, the Karlsruhe court announced that the European patent is void within Germany. The German Federal Court is the country’s highest authority which rules on patents cases.

Apple loses another one; German court rules against Apple's "Swipe-to-Unlock"

For unlocking the phone, Apple’s devices have a graphic manual that shows a finger movement in a predetermined pattern on the screen. However, this feature did not reach a level of sophistication needed to qualify as an invention, the patents court said. Also, an imitation of the scrolling bar on the display was not a technical advancement, but a graphic feature to make usage easy, judges ruled.



According to Bloomberg, the decision supports the findings by an earlier patent tribunal in favor of Lenovo’s Motorola Mobility unit. Originally, the Motorola lawsuit had Samsung as another plaintiff; however, the latter company withdrew the lawsuit in the end.

“This user-friendly display was already suggested by the state of the art,” the court said today. “The contested patent thus isn’t based on an invention.”

In 2012, Apple won a Munich court injunction against Motorola Mobility based on the patent claiming that the company’s implementation of Android violated its unlocking concept. That case is still pending on appeal and was stayed to wait for the outcome of Tuesday’s suit.

Apple and its rival manufacturers have been involved in various patent suits and countersuits since 2009. At the time, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs thought that design and operation features on iPhones were being copied, so he decided to lodge a complaint against Samsung and Motorola. Both the companies, which use Android operating systems for their smartphones and tablets, filed counter-complaints against Apple’s patent. Meanwhile, Samsung and Apple have dropped their non-US lawsuits.

The fight between the international smartphone giants has gone global too, with more than a dozen complaints filed in different countries. 2015 seems to be a bad year for Apple.