Apple has to restrict its e-mail services in germany because of a patent dispute with motorola; customers no longer get messages delivered automatically to their devices. This so-called push service for the e-mail offers of mobileme and icloud has been deactivated until further notice.
Apple customers can still receive their e-mails, but they are no longer automatically informed of new incoming messages. However, the push ban can be de facto circumvented by users configuring the service so that the device regularly polls the e-mail account for new messages ("pull").
Apple also stressed that the push mail service on desktop computers, laptops and the web, as well as services from other providers such as microsoft exchange activesync, are not affected by the stop.
It is already the second time this month that apple has to close its business in germany because of a mannheim patent ruling in favor of motorola. In early february, the group stopped online sales of some iphone and ipad models. However, the karlsruhe higher regional court, as the court of appeal, suspended the sales ban for the time being after one day. The dispute relates to a patent for the GPRS data radio standard.
The trigger for the current e-mail brake was a three-week-old ruling by the mannheim district court that an older motorola patent had been infringed by the way apple’s services work. The patent dates back to the days of pagers and contains a method of delivering information to the devices.
"We consider motorola’s patent to be invalid and will appeal against the ruling initiated by motorola mobility," said an apple spokesperson to the dpa news agency.
Apple and motorola are embroiled in a bitter patent dispute with mutual accusations in several countries. Apple and microsoft also filed complaints with the eu commission accusing motorola of misusing patents that are part of the foundation of standards and therefore have to be licensed at special conditions. The patent, with which motorola now braked the e-mail services, does not belong however to it.
The patent controversies involving motorola are being watched particularly closely because google is in the process of acquiring the handset maker for $12.5 billion. The internet company says it wants to strengthen the patent arsenal behind its android mobile operating system, which is the target of many lawsuits. Motorola, a pioneer in mobile communications, has a treasure trove of some 17,000 patents and 6800 patent applications.