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Push-email is likely gone from the iCloud for at least a year

It is a small thing.  But as Apple, Inc. (AAPL) well knows, it is the little things that sell a product.

I. Bye Bye Bye

Apple had proudly unveiled the iCloud in mid-2011.  The service offers photo streaming, documents "in the cloud", automated backups, and push email/calendar/contacts.  Well, for Germany, Europe's third largest tablet and smartphone market, the good times are over, as the push email functionality is officially banned.

After new Google Inc. (GOOGacquisition Motorola Mobility secured a preliminary injunction just weeks ago in German court, Apple failed to convince a judge to inflate the bond.  As a result, Motorola paid the bond to carry through with the ban.  Some sources are estimating that bond could have cost around €100M ($134.1M USD).

iCloud ban
The iCloud's core push-email is verboten in Germany. [Image Source: 9 to 5 Mac]

Left with little recourse, Apple was left doing the same thing it had forced Android phonemakers to do -- remove features.  To recap, Apple has already forced several Android phonemakers to remove the "bounce" animation from their smartphones, and degrade the quality of scrolling in their gallery.  Those concessions come after preliminary injunction losses in regions such as the Netherlands.  And in Germany Apple has even banned Motorola and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) from using unidirectional slide-to-unlock, forcing them to use a clunky spiral motion unlock screen.

Apple writes to its German fans the bad news:

Due to recent patent litigation by Motorola Mobility, iCloud and MobileMe users are currently unable to have iCloud and MobileMe email pushed to their iOS devices while located within the borders of Germany.

Affected customers will still receive iCloud and MobileMe email, but new messages will be downloaded to their devices when the Mail app is opened, or when their device periodically fetches new messages as configured in iOS Settings. Push email service on desktop computers, laptop computers, and the web is unaffected, as is service from other providers such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.

Apple believes Motorola's patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.

Apple's calendar and contacts syncing will continue to function as normal in iCloud and MobileMe, despite the loss of push email.

II. Why Was the iCloud Feature Banned, and What Is Next?

The device maker faces an uphill struggle from here on out.  Like many of Apple's patents that it's litigated with, Motorola's push email patent may be invalid due to prior art or other issues (novelty, etc.).  

In the U.S., a lower federal courts judges can ban a product or service via preliminary injunction if they feel that:

a) The described product or service clearly violates the patent

b) There is not a "high likelihood" that a patent is invalid.

The German court system works slightly differently, but the end result is the same.  In Germany infringement proceeds along one track, while validity proceeds along a second, parallel track [source].  A judge can pause (stay) the infringement proceedings to wait for the conclusion of the validity, but only if there is a "high likelihood" of their validity.

Again, both systems rely on the premise of a "high likelihood" of invalidity, which is typically defined at somewhere around 70 to 80 percent.  Of course this is wholly subjective, meaning how one judge might rule could vary substantially from what another judge might rule.

For now Apple's iPads and iPhones have been crippled of a key feature, much as Apple has crippled its competitors. Apple's next soonest hope of killing the painful ruling comes when it pleads its case before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, a German appeals court.  The appeals court has a lower standard of invalidity to grant a stay -- it can grant a stay if it feels that there's over a 50 percent chance of invalidity.

Angry iPhone owner
iPhone owners must live with the ban, likely for at least a year. [Image Source: Tech Axcess]

However, the issue for Apple is that the appeals court likely won't hear the case for at least a year -- ironically, a delay which may in part be lengthened due to all the appeals Apple has generated in its its own injunction wins over Android phonemakers.  And, of course, there's no guarantees that the appeals court will even see the patent as 50 percent or more likely to be invalid.

The Android v. Apple patent dispute is increasingly looking like   a stalemate of growing attrition.  Everyone is losing -- especially the customers -- as features disappear from both sides' products.  And there's little sign that the leadership on either side is willing to offer an end to the conflict.

Note 1:

The higher invalidity standard is in major contrast with other EU nations, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Note 2:

The push-email patent used in this case is not a patent promised under the "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) rules.  Thus, unlike some other recent rulings -- such as a German ban on online iPad/iPhone sales -- Motorola stands no risk of getting in trouble for FRAND abuse for its effort (as, again, the patent is not FRAND).

Note 3:

The patent involved in this ruling is 
EP (European Patent) 0847654 (B1).  The U.S. counterpart: U.S. Patent No. 5,754,119, which covers a "multiple pager status synchronization system and method".

Source: Apple

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By sprockkets on 2/24/2012 6:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
As quoted by a third party after he was dead and he was dying and in a great deal of pain when he was supposed to have said it. I don't know about you but just stubbing my toe has caused me to say things I wouldn't have otherwise said.

So we went to the real story of SJ giving an interview about what happened btw him and the ex CEO of google that day years ago to he said that on his deathbed? Good one.

I'm sure having an axe to grind had nothing to do with Google voice being kicked out of the app store for no reason whatsoever.

The strategy will probably work and Microsoft's efforts with WP7 shows it's possible to build competent alternative mobile platforms without copying Apple so there is life after copying.

Bull Sht. WP7 infringes on at least 6 major new patents of apple, like the multi-touch ones, the multi-touch gestures, the slide to unlock patent and others. Apple won't sue MS because 1% market share isn't worth spending money over. What? Prior agreements? No proof of such for their new multi-touch patents.

Meanwhile I have to say this made me chuckle - there are some areas where Android has a huge lead over iOS and which demonstrates the true advantage of being 'open'

Meanwhile, I had a "chuckle" of more apps getting through apple's "vetting" and ignoring their polices of address book privacy. That's 4 major failures to do its job now, with the first one outing the ipad before release due to an app that phoned home device info.

By testerguy on 2/25/12, Rating: 0
By sprockkets on 2/25/2012 9:08:37 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly, I don't know why you guys go on such tangents. What was or wasn't said by any CEO is of no relevance whatsoever to the legal merit of their court cases.

No it isn't. But since we didn't say it was, nice strawman.

It wasn't just Google's VOIP app which was banned. There were several, from different companies. 'Having an axe to grind' is therefore clearly not the reason.

Other than the fact that there was no official explanation given except "We haven't banned Google Voice, we are studying it", after already approving it months earlier. What a coincidence, it happened right as soon as SJ came back to work.

Sounds like Apple is in for a big pay day, then? That is, if Windows phones ever increase to become even a minor player in this industry. Of course, Apple isn't innovative so I don't know how they came up with Multi-touch on the original iPhone.

They didn't, but the stupid USPTO granted them the patents anyhow. Guess what? I just learned yesterday that the iphone wasn't the first phone with multi-touch gestures either.

While this is worded so poorly to render it almost completely unreadable to most people, I sense that there is some attempt at a veiled insult to the fact that Apple actually has standards which must be followed in its app store, the very thing leading many industry experts, and people such as Charlie Miller to define iOS as far more secure than Android?

Yep, apple has app guidelines and rules, and apps get in all the time that violate them. What are those morons doing when they rubber stamp that approval on apps anyhow. (sic)

By testerguy on 2/27/12, Rating: 0
"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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