Joff Wild

There were a lot of eyebrows raised when Google announced that it was going to spend $12 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility. The sum represented a significant premium on Moto’s stock price, while some questioned whether the 17,000-strong portfolio that were integral to the deal were of sufficient quality (though that was not everyone). Well, perhaps the news from Germany last week may give the doubters pause for thought.

A decision by the Mannheim Regional Court on Friday finding that Apple infringed a Motorola patent relating to the implementation of GPRS has put the sale of both iPads and iPhones into doubt in Germany. According to Florian Mueller’s FOSS Patents blog: “There's no question that this is a major win for Motorola Mobility and its counsel, Quinn Emanuel.” The report goes on: “They are also on the winning track against Apple in another Mannheim case”; this one focusing on a European patent valid in Germany relating to “a "multiple pager status synchronization system and method".

Neither Mannheim case is close to being finally decided yet, so a lot can change. But just assuming that it doesn’t Motorola Mobility will have the opportunity to block the sale of a wide range of big name Apple products in Europe’s biggest and richest marketplace. When you are looking to protect the Android mobile platform, that Is not a bad position to be in. And it gets even better if you can replicate that position in other jurisdictions. Some might even say that such a powerful weapon would be worth spending a lot of money to secure.