Apple experienced a rare patent victory against Motorola Mobility today in Germany when a Mannheim court held that Apple's 3G devices, including the iPhone, didn't infringe European Patent No. 1053613. This particular technical patent covers a wireless system that generates a "complex pseudonoise sequence" for processing access signals. The patent claims may be a bit opaque, but it doesn't look like it really matters. Unlike most court decisions focused on a finding of non-infringement, this judge didn't need to conduct a detailed comparison between the patent claim language and the hardware and functionality of the allegedly infringing Apple devices. FOSS Patents reports that the judge instead simply focused on Motorola's own failure to meet its burden of providing sufficient evidence of infringement.
Typically, a patent owner has to provide the court (or a jury) with a detailed comparison of where each and every claimed patent feature is found in the accused devices. That's a fundamental requirement. Here, it appears that Motorola was simply relying on an argument that because Apple's devices use 3G/UMTS technology, they must necessarily infringe. We're not aware of any court where that would fly — it demonstrates either a lack of commitment by Motorola in its infringement argument, or a dangerous level of overconfidence. Motorola essentially let Apple off the hook with this one, and will most likely have to appeal the ruling if it plans to continue with these specific infringement allegations.
It may be too early to call this a momentum shift in Apple's direction, but Motorola had been on a winning streak in Germany: first, with a ruling that Apple's iPad and iPhone devices infringed a patent essential to the GPRS standard, and again with a ruling that Apple's iCloud services infringed a patent relating to push email messaging. The folks in Cupertino have to be feeling a little better about themselves today.