Samsung Electronics got a reprieve from Apple's legal onslaught in Germany on Friday, as a court in Mannheim suspended a case about Apple's slide-to-unlock feature because of questions regarding related intellectual property protection.
The district court in Mannheim stayed proceedings until the German Patent and Trade Mark Office makes a decision regarding the validity of the so-called utility model that protects Apple's slide-to-unlock feature, which Samsung has challenged and Apple thinks Samsung has infringed on, a spokesman for the Mannheim district court said.
The utility model provides fast and low-cost protection of technical inventions, according to the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. A utility model may be registered within a few weeks after filing the application, the office said, whereas it often takes several years to obtain a traditional patent.
That is possible because in the case of a patent application the office proves whether it is really an invention, but that isn't done for a utility model application, the spokesman at the Mannheim district court said.
Also, protection using the utility model can last only for up to 10 years, compared to 20 years for patents, according to the patent office website.
Apple had no comment on the ruling, while Samsung welcomed the stay, saying its Galaxy range of devices will remain available for consumers in Germany.
Earlier this month, Apple won an injunction in another German court, preventing Motorola Mobility from distributing smartphones there that infringe on a patent on a way of displaying photos.