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

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