Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is continuing its "thermonuclear war" against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and its Android operating system, and won a battle against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility this week when a German court ruled that Motorola Mobility infringes upon an Apple "rubbed band" patent, and a preliminary injunction was posted, rejecting sales of Motorola Mobility handsets that use that patent.
The "rubber band" patent is a feature where a user can scroll past the end of a file, and the screen seems to "bounce back" once the user removes his or her finger from the touchscreen. Motorola devices that the Munich court ruled were infringing the patent are the Motorola Milestone XT720, the DEFY, the Atrix and XOOM, which all run the Android operating system by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). A spokeswoman for the Munch court, Stefanie Ruhwinkel, said that the official ruling is that Motorola cannot use the patent in Germany, "so you could call it a sales ban."
In addition to the ban, the court granted Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) requests to recall all infringing devices that were in distribution (not sold) and have them destroyed. The company also requested that Motorola Mobility disclose its sales figures in Germany so a proper level of damages can be computed.
The injunction can be made permanent if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) posts a $32 million bond, if Motorola Mobility decides not to appeal the ruling or if an appeals court upholds the lower court's ruling. Motorola Mobility can work around the injunction once it removes the software that infringes on the patent - a similar move to what Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. did a year ago.
Whether this is the first step to another U.S. battle against a Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) partner - like last month's Samsung duel - will remain to be seen, or if this will be a topic of discussion if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) chief Larry Page have another phone conversation in the near future. This win is a small step but perhaps important for investors in Apple stock, like hedge-fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital.