updated 06:25 pm EDT, Tue October 1, 2013
Ban had stymied German users even after patent found likely invalid
As of 9PM local time in Germany, users in that country are finally -- after 19 months -- able to activate push email services from iCloud. The previous block was due to a patent dispute with Google-owned Motorola Mobility over a patent on a push-type messaging originally granted for beepers, and which has in the intervening months been found invalid for four separate reasons by a court in the UK, and later on in three different courts in Germany.
During the process, Google had refused to accept any agreement to stay the injunction until forced to by an appeals court, inconveniencing users across Germany. The company originally won the injunction over a patent that was not declared standards-essential and thus could be barred when Apple was found guilty of infringing it.
While iCloud (and Mobile Me as the service was previously known) email continued to work normally, users in Germany did not have the option of turning on "push" notifications, where all or certain kinds of email generate a notification on a user's mobile device the instant it arrives in the inbox. Users had the option of having the mail program check automatically for mail periodically (which uses more battery) or had to check their email manually for new arrivals (which was inefficient).
Apple has posted a $132 million bond against the possibility that the stay might eventually be overturned -- but as additional courts weigh in on the invalidity of the original Motorola Mobility patent, the possibility of this happening looks increasingly remote. Just within Germany, the Federal Patent Court, the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court, the Mannheim Regional Court -- the latter being the same court that issued the original injunction against Apple -- have expressed doubts about the validity of the patent
Google had been asked by the courts to agree to a stay of the injunction until a patent determination hearing can be held, but it refused. The hearing has now been scheduled for November 13, reports Florian Mueller. The Karlsruhe court granted an Apple request to force Google to stay enforcement of the patent injunction, citing a finding by the Federal Patent Court that it was inclined to hold the patent invalid, in part due to findings in the UK court invalidity ruling.
The actual stay on the injunction happened in early September, but paperwork issues and internal Apple testing to ensure that the system would work correctly delayed implementation until today. A court that will specialize in patent cases and have Europe-wide rulings is in the process of being set up, and will focus on issues such as the damage done when sales bans or injunctions continue to be enforced, even when the patent has a high likelihood of being invalid.