Motorola lawsuit forces Apple to disable iCloud and MobileMe push email in Germany

Motorola lawsuit forces Apple to disable iCloud and MobileMe push email in Germany

Unfortunate and possibly infuriating news for German iCloud and MobileMe users today, as Apple has apparently been forced to turn off push email as a result of a lawsuit by Motorola Mobility. Apple told Engadget:

This ruling only impacts customers in Germany who use a Push setting to get their MobileMe and iCloud email. These customers will still receive email to their devices. Apple believes [Motorola's] patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.

Motorola and Apple have been suing and counter suing each other for years, though generally court decisions along the way haven't had direct impact on either's customers. For their part, Apple believes Motorola (and Samsung) are misusing FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) patents pledged to standards pools in an effort to force Apple to cross-license non-FRAND patents in return. In other words, Motorola (and Samsung) are trying to gain access to Apple's proprietary multi-touch patents by unfairly and potentially illegally using standards-based 3G and other networking patents as leverage. The European Union is investigating the situation, and Microsoft has recently made similar complaints against Motorola. (Google simply bought Motorola to avoid similar lawsuits against Android, but seems content to let Motorola continue potential FRAND-abusing litigation against other companies for now.)

So, to sum up, it's yet another case of one giant company litigating another giant company which will inevitably result in one incredibly rich group of people swapping money and/or licenses with another incredibly rich group of people, harming only non-giant, non-rich customers along the way.

Apple for their part, has posted a support document for German users detailing how to switch MobileMe and iCloud email off of push and onto fetch mail protocols.

For iCloud Mail:

  • From the Home screen, tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Tap Fetch New Data
  • Select a time interval for Fetch
  • Push can remain turned on to continue push service for Contacts and Calendars.
  • With these settings, your iCloud Mail account will fetch new messages at your set interval while you are inside Germany. Push email service will continue to be available outside of Germany.

For MobileMe Mail:

  • From the Home screen, tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Tap Fetch New Data
  • Select a time interval for Fetch
  • Tap Advanced
  • Tap a MobileMe account in your account list
  • Change Select Schedule to Fetch
  • Tap Advanced to return to the prior screen
  • Repeat steps 5-7 for each MobileMe account on your device.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Disabling Push for a MobileMe account will also apply to the Contacts and Calendars service associated with that account. To maintain push service for Contacts and Calendars, leave Select Schedule set to Push and continue to check email manually.

Once a MobileMe user has accessed their MobileMe Mail account from Germany, push email will be disabled indefinitely. Unlike iCloud Mail accounts, push will not be automatically re-enabled upon leaving the country. Users can move their MobileMe accounts to iCloud to re-enable push services outside of Germany.

Update: Turns out it's not a FRAND patent, but rather a patent related to pager syncing. Apo

Source: Engadget, Apple Support

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 20 comments. Add yours.

Carioca32 says:

It is impossible for ANYONE to build any type of device without infringing on someone elses patent today. The guys at iMore are always saying that competition is good, and other companies should be building innovative devices and giving Apple a run for its money, but in reality they can't, because everything is patented, even far fetched ideas that will never see the light of day.
This is one of the reasons we don't see much innovation anymore, and all companies, including Apple, behave like they are on rails, just going strait.
This has become a big mess, and Steve Jobs with the infamous "spend my last dying breath...spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank...destroy Android...willing to go thermonuclear war" did not help at all. This is not "one giant company litigating another giant company". It is petty bickering, and everybody stands to lose. How much has Apple spent on lawyers this past few years? How about Samsung or Motorola?
When Samsung products or Apple services are banned everybody loses. So what if patents were infringed, what was the damage, really? Is it cheaper to sue or to license? How about this FRAND thing, why is that no Apple patent is subjected to it, just other companies patents? So using 3G is FRAND but multitouch is not? Pleeease...

jhrogersii says:

I am not a huge fan of this whole mess either, but there is a difference in the eyes of the law. 3G and/or CDMA are ABSOLUTELY required to build a phone. There aren't any exceptions there. Companies can't go build their own cell networks just to make a new phone. The companies that get to those standards first get paid, so even though Nokia and Qualcomm aren't the coolest and most cutting edge companies anymore, they are still in business because they were smart early on. I have no problem with that.
As for Apple, you could argue today that Mult-touch is essential, but is it really? You can build a good, solid, working phone without multi-touch. Companies did it for years, and still do today. Blackberry may not be what it once was, but it has survived making keyboard phones for many years now. Should Apple, in the long run, make their multi-touch patents available as FRAND. Probably so. However, they are using their current advantage to try and get leverage themselves. Nokia's and Qualcomm's patents probably weren't FRAND right from the start, and I'm sure they got things in return for making them so.
In the long run, when all this shakes out, Apple will probably have to, as well. But, they should be able to get paid for the revolution that they started, just like Nokia and Qualcomm did. I think Apple is playing hardball because they and MS are trying to drive the price to make Android devices up. They, along with Blackberry, are developing OSs, while everyone else is using an open-source product, so they both want to level the playing field as much as they can on price.
We may all whine and gripe and mone about this, but it's business. This is how business works in just about ANY industry. It's cutthroat and competitive. Does it sometimes suck for consumers? Sure. But, how the hell do you think we are getting these cool devices in mass quantities? It is the very definition of a double-edged sword.

iDavey says:

Well to be clear, Apple does not own multi touch, but the specific gestures that they implemented.
I personally prefer tap to zoom. If more precision is needed a think a two finger slide up or down should zoom in or out respectively.
I barely even use ptz on my Nexus, iPod, or MacBook.

OrionAntares#CB says:

Wasn't there something about these particular patents not being FRAND patents in this case?

iDavey says:

Well to be clear, Apple does not own multi touch, but the specific gestures that they implemented.
I personally prefer tap to zoom. If more precision is needed a think a two finger slide up or down should zoom in or out respectively.
I barely even use ptz on my Nexus, iPod, or MacBook.

iDavey says:

Sorry, wrong button pushed, lol

not says:

Now the users need to turn around and individually sue Apple in small claims court (not a class action because that doesn't get them anything worthwhile) for selling them a device that's not capable of being utilized as it was originally advertised. Fight fire with fire...

iDavey says:

Yeah...too bad this particular patent isn't FRAND.

Dev says:

1) You are conflating two issues, seemingly deliberately to muddy the waters. The patent in question here is not FRAND. Apple believes it is invalid, but it is not FRAND.
2) Good. Yes, this patent is likely absurd, but no more absurd than a patent for receiving email wirelessly (NTP) or the Gesture of Swiping to Unlock (Apple). Spread the pain around, so that customers of the most popular phone on the planet feel it to. Things are going to have to get worse for customers of all stripes before enough people press governments to change the entire system.

PB says:

I agree with Dev.
It seems Rene Ritchie is maintaining a double standard when it comes to apple infringing on another companies patents. The patent in question is not a FRAND related one. iMore in its previous blogs has supported Apple defending its intellectual property rights. It seems strange to protest the same when Apple is the one who is infringing.

Rene Ritchie says:

1) I'm not deliberately doing anything. I may be mistakenly conflating two different issues, and if so I'll happily correct that. It was my understanding it was one of the essential FRAND patents; if that's not the case, I'll update according.
2) The amount of absurd patents being issued in the last decade could stun a planet of mules.

Rob White says:

Not sure about point 1. FRAND seems to be getting enforced differently according to what jurisdiction the court is on. Point 2 is spot on. It IS absurd the amount of junk patents that are stifling innovation.

PB says:

I agree on point 2. Software patents need to be overhauled ASAP. The patent Apple is currently being sued on should not have been patented in the first place.

pepperonijack says:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2012/02/motorola-forces-apple-to-deactiv...
"But the patent that now affects Apple's push email service in Germany does not appear to be essential to any industry standard."
Why would Motorola consider push mail a standard? The idea is absurd.

Pimp Lucious says:

Did you ever correct this, because reading the article would still lead one to believe this is a FRAND issue, which it is not.

Rob White says:

Quite possibly the best part of "The Official Steve Jobs Biography" is the part dealing with Bill Gates. Jobs is furious that Microsoft would have the nerve & gall to create an opposing operating system based on the work of Xerox Parc. Gates says something along the lines of "Actually we saw the same tech at Parc you guys did. When were coming thru the window to steal it we found out you stole it thru the front door."
I think that about sums up the river I cry for Apple loading in court lately. Boo hoo hoo.

Inappropriate Response says:

as per usual factually inaccurate, must be nice not having to deal with facts when you spew your nonsense on this site. just poor

Rob White says:

And as usual you can't refute anything I wrote. I've read the book. It is filled with Steve Jobs glorifying himself. Until facts get in the way of course.
Nice try but you still lack the credability to be anything but the false name you hide behind

Glenn#IM says:

No matter who is right, or wrong, there is another issue to look at. Have we created a system for no real settlement due to the amount of money attorneys make going back, and forth on this. Look at Fannie, and Freddie According to an article in Newsy, 110 million has been paid out in legal fees, and that is just one story of high money pay offs to keep the legal machine going. I wonder if there will ever be a settlement that can really benefit the buyer. That is the real reason these companies are in business.