updated 02:40 pm EST, Fri January 20, 2012
Apple claims Nexus breaks utility model
Apple in the same Mannheim Regional Court that just tossed one Samsung patent claim has argued that the Galaxy Nexus is violating a utility model, or a quick-to-establish but short reach legal claim. The iPhone designer alleged on Friday that the Android 4.0 leader violated a slide-to-unlock motion from iOS that was given the utility model status in Germany in 2006. Apple argued that it couldn't use the model until now as other phones, even ones years old, were too new for the claim.
Samsung is expected to hinge any defense around claims of prior art from Neonode, which briefly flirted with phones years ago. It used this to cast doubt on Apple claims in the Netherlands last year.
A hearing is due on March 16 that will decide whether the utility model holds, is reexamined, or is put on hold while another validity claim is ongoing.
The claims are significant both for the interpretation and their possible significance for all of Android. Unlike other Android phones, where claims have usually been leveled against customizations that more conspicuously borrow from Apple, the Galaxy Nexus has a deliberately "loose" interface that doesn't prescribe the path a finger needs to take to unlock the phone. Using a completely stock form of Android 4.0 also reinforces the view that Apple's real dispute is with Google, not Samsung.
Moving against Android 4.0 also answers whether or not Apple would find issue with the new OS. Many of its changes, such as the touchscreen navigation controls, the new unlock method, and other apps are all more conspicuous breaks from their more iPhone-like predecessors. [via Florian Mueller]