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Apple faces Germany ban after court no-show

Did its lawyer get stuck in traffic?

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Sales of iPhones and iPads are on the brink of being banned in Germany as a result of a court battle over Apple's alleged infringement of Motorola patents - but the fruity fondleslab maker reckons it can get the injunction suspended even though it failed to turn up.

The German hearing on Friday was brought about by Motorola Mobility, which is seeking an injunction to ban sales and thus prevent Apple gaining customers while the patent hearings continue. Quite why Apple didn't attend remains a mystery – suggestions range from a lawyer stuck in traffic to a ploy designed to consolidate cases – but it did result in a German court rendering a default judgement which will see Apple products removed from sale in Germany, unless the company gets it suspended.

The case was against Apple Inc, not Apple GmbH, but patent watcher Florian Mueller persuasively argues that this is only relevant in that a separate case against Apple GmbH, for breaching the same patents, is progressing and Apple's actions could see the two cases combined. The judgement is enforceable against subsidiaries of Apple Inc, including Apple GmbH.

Failing to turn up does mean that if Apple gets the injunction suspended it will have to lodge bail with the court, but given the amount of money at stake, and Apple's lines of credit, that's a minor issue.

Apple certainly doesn't seem bothered, telling CNET that "this is a procedural issue and has nothing to do with the merits of the case ... It does not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany at this time".

The case was not debated on Friday, and Apple has a week or two to file objections to the default judgment, so we're still some way off seeing Apple products pulled from German shelves. ®

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