Ban on iOS push mail stays but patent used to get it likely to be invalid, German court says

But Apple can always file a request with the court to lift the ban, a court spokeswoman said

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

A patent that Motorola Mobility used to force Apple to turn off its iCloud push mail service in Germany is likely to be invalid, the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe said on Wednesday -- but the ban will not be lifted, a court spokeswoman said.

Apple was ordered to stop offering push mail services in Germany in February last year after the District Court in Mannheim found that Apple infringed on a Motorola patent entitled "Multiple Pager Status Synchronization System and Method," also known as the push notification patent.

Apple took the case to Mannheim's appellate court in Karlsruhe, where the court decided to postpone its decision until the German Federal Patent Court has ruled on the patent's validity, Christiane Oehler, spokeswoman for the Karlsruhe appeals court said.

Similar doubts were raised about the same patent by the Mannheim court last Friday in a case between Motorola and Microsoft. That court too decided to wait for the outcome of the pending validity procedure because the patent was likely to be invalid. Neither of the German courts however disclosed why it thought the patent was invalid.

The push notification patent had already been ruled invalid by a U.K. court in December in a lawsuit between Motorola and Microsoft because it lacks novelty and is obvious, the court said at the time. While German and U.K. courts are independent, it is not unusual for them to take note of each other's rulings over the same matter.

While two German courts now doubt the validity of the patent, the ban on iOS push mail services via iCloud and its predecessor MobileMe won't be lifted, Oehler said. "The current decision to suspend the ruling does not change anything about the ban, at least not automatically," she said.

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