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Apple lands slide-to-unlock patent blow on Motorola

Android mobe maker needs Ice Cream Sandwich ASAP

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Motorola's Android handsets are infringing Apple's slide-to-unlock patent, in Germany at least, though an appeal may be lodged.

Apple hasn't said it will enforce the Munich ruling - a permanent injunction - as it would need to post a bond against failure at appeal, but the judge is clear that Motorola needs to find a different way to unlock handsets as patent-court-lurker Florian Mueller reports.

The ruling does not cover Motorola's Xoom tablet, as that uses a drag-finger-outside-circle unlocking which is sufficiently different from Apple's approach, but Motorola's Android handsets do implement an iPhone-like swipe mechanism, and one which Motorola may be forced to change.

Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Android, can be unlocked just by looking at the camera, but earlier this week Motorola admitted that ICS updates are still at least three months off, and US updates to the flagship RAZR don't even have a schedule yet (though Europe should see it later this year).

So any enforcement by Apple would require Motorola to push out updates changing the experience of unlocking the phone, something users have become very familiar with, but Apple may decide to bide its time and wait for an appeal, perhaps with the hope of catching the Xoom in the net next time around. ®

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