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Apple slide-to-unlock spat with Samsung hits the buffers

Mannheim wants Munich to make up its mind

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A judge in Germany has put the brakes on Apple's complaint that Samsung copied its slide-to-unlock technology while awaiting the outcome of a separate lawsuit progressing elsewhere in the country.

The court in Mannheim announced it won't be doing any more legal stuff on the smartphone feature until proceedings in Munich have reached a conclusion, Reuters reported.

Although the Mannheim court rejected a lawsuit over the patent on slide-to-unlock, it is currently unravelling a dispute over the "utility model", which is like a patent but has a shorter lifespan and is less stringent.

Apple claims it has the monopoly on sliding-to-unlock and has already won a permanent injunction against Motorola Mobility with the patent in Germany; this decision can be appealed and there's been no sign of Apple enforcing the ban yet.

The decisions are merely the latest in the long line of tit-for-tat intellectual property infringement cases between Apple and Android smartphone manufacturers. Neither side is emerging as the clear winner yet.

However the Android half has attracted the scrutiny of regulators for using its standards-essential patents as ammo in the war. Despite this probing, which could hamstring the Android manufacturers, signs are emerging that Apple and its rivals may consider settling the cases and getting on with the business of making new phones and fondleslabs - something everyone who's not a patent lawyer is hoping for. ®

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