Another development in the very long and winding road of mobile patent disputes: Apple has now had to disable the mobile push email function used through MobileMe and iCloud, after a court ruled earlier this month that Apple had infringed on a Motorola patent claiming IP on push email.
A spokesperson from Apple told TechCrunch that the turn-off happened overnight, and that it will be appealing the ruling.
The block was first reported by the German blog Mobiflip.
As Apple did when the decision against it was first handed down earlier this month, it is once again downplaying the impact of not being able to offer push email through MobileMe and iCloud, saying that only a small number of German users will be affected:
“This ruling only impacts customers in Germany who use a Push setting to get their MobileMe and iCloud email,” he said. “These customers will still receive email to their devices. Apple believes this patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.”
TechCrunch understands that those who live and travel in Germany will not be able to get push email notifications on their Apple devices, but that this does not disable email altogether. There are rules that a user can still set up to check email regularly — Apple details how to do that here, on an information page it has made for users affected by this — although this will not be as instantaneous as those that are pushed.
When Apple first had the ruling on the pager case handed down earlier this month, a company spokesperson dismissed Motorola’s IP as an “old pager patent” — but even so, it represents a setback for Apple, in that it shows the company is not immune to roadblocks, either, when it comes to patent litigation.
Up to now, Apple has been successful at getting injunctions on Android-based Samsung tablets, both in Germany and Australia: Apple claims these rip off its designs and patents. Those cases are still in progress, and some of the injunctions have since been lifted.
Apple had another hiccup in Germany this month, when it had to remove older models of the iPhone and iPad from its online store after another ruling in a separate Motorola case. That block was lifted, however, less than 24 hours later.
The original ruling centered on a pager patent held by Motorola — going back to its earliest days as a mobile company, which now makes smart devices based on the Android platform and is in the process of getting acquired by Google, pending regulatory approvals still to be secured in China, Israel and Taiwan.
We are also reaching out to Motorola for comment for this story.