Samsung and Motorola don't infringe on Apple's multitouch patent, says German court

Apple has also lost lawsuits about the same patent in the Netherlands and the U.K.

Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility don't infringe on an Apple patent that describes technology that prevents smartphone users from pushing two buttons at the same time on a touch screen, the lower regional court in Mannheim ruled on Friday, a court spokesman said.

Apple sued both Samsung and Google-owned Motorola Mobility over its "touch event model" patent. According to Apple, Android-based smartphones and tablets infringe on the patent, which describes a technology that makes it easier for developers to disable touch input in certain areas of a screen to avoid undesirable input.

Both iOS and Android devices are able to do this, but use slightly different approaches. Apple prevents unwanted touches by giving each "view," an element of the user interface, exclusivity. Android uses a system that is more hierarchical and doesn't only apply to one "view" but more at the same time.

The court spokesman could not go into specifics about the two cases in Mannheim, but Apple and Samsung discussed the same multitouch patent in a court in The Hague on Sept. 7. There, Apple's lawyer argued that Samsung does infringe on the patent because the technique used in Android is so similar to Apple's that it is essentially the same. Samsung's lawyer disagreed at the time and argued that Apple's technology, in fact, is better than Android's because it is less complex for developers to use.

Apple has the right to appeal the ruling, although spokesman Alan Hely declined to comment on the Mannheim verdicts or the company's plans.

Samsung spokeswoman Anne ter Braak said via email: "We welcome today's ruling, which affirms our position that our products do not infringe Apple's intellectual property."

Apple has lost lawsuits about the same patents in Europe before. It was denied an injunction on Samsung's products in the Netherlands in preliminary proceedings by the Court of The Hague last year. Apple, however, chose to continue the litigation against Samsung in the Netherlands and the Court of The Hague plans to rule in this case on Oct. 24. The Dutch judge Peter Blok has said he will read the Mannheim verdicts closely, to see if they are relevant to the Dutch case.

Apple also issued claims about the same patent against HTC in the U.K., where the court denied Apple's claims and ruled that HTC does not infringe on this multitouch patent.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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