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Motorola unfazed by Apple photo-patent win

'We expect no impact' from latest German court loss

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Motorola Mobility (MMI) lost another round in its ongoing patent war with Apple when a German court ruled in Cupertino's favor in a photo-management patent case – but they're putting their best face on the setback.

"Today's ruling in Munich, Germany on the patent litigation brought by Apple concerns a software feature associated with performing certain functions when viewing photos in a 'zoomed in' mode on mobile devices," a company spokesperson wrote to The Reg in an email. "We note that the Court ruled that performing the functions in a 'zoomed out' mode does not infringe on this patent."

Peripatetic patent prognosticator Florian Mueller opined that "If Apple enforces the ruling, it can even require Motorola to destroy any infringing products in its possession in Germany and recall, at MMI's expense, any infringing products from German retailers in order to have them destroyed as well."

MMI, however, doesn't appear to be unduly concerned.

"We expect no impact to supply or future sales as we have already implemented a new way to view photos on our products that does not interfere with the user experience," the company spokesperson told us.

The patent in dispute covers photo viewing and management in iOS, and as MMI said in its email, Apple won the "zoomed in" half of the infringement battle, forcing MMI to adapt.

As is often the case in patent litigation, the details of the infringement are finely wrought, but we can find no reference to the number of angels that might be allowed to dance on a single pixel in an Android emulation of an iOS photo gallery.

Earlier this week, Apple won another patent-war battle when a German court allowed it to continue selling its iWares in that country while Cupertino's appeal of a December 2011 victory for MMI in a wireless connectivity patent-licensing brouhaha drags on.

Neither that case nor the one that has caused Apple to shut down its iCloud and MobileMe push-email service in German has anything to do with Thursday's decision, save for the fact that all three are evidence of a level of patent warfare that has heated up considerably in recent years.

And there's more fun to come. As Mueller reminds us, there are two more Apple-patent rulings due tomorrow in Germany – but both involve Samsung, not MMI. In one, Apple is suing the Korean giant over Cupertino's slide-to-unlock patent (also lobbed at MMI), and the other is a 3G telecom fight in which Samsung is suing Apple.

Clearly, Rodney "Can we all get along?" King would have made a dreadful patent lawyer. ®

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