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Apple loses 'slide to unlock' patent claim in Germany

Another day, another patent battle lost by Apple in its war against Samsung.

This time, a German court had ruled its patents covering the "slide to unlock” feature on smartphones are invalid, First Post reported on Wednesday.

This way, the 2013 decision by a lower court, rejecting the US Company claims, was reaffirmed.

The patent was one of the first iPhone’s defining features, and was quickly picked up by rival Android-based phones. The feature has since lived through a couple of transformations on Google’s mobile OS.

In a statement, the appeals court said it confirmed a ruling by the lower Federal Patent Court that cancelled Apple’s German patent, based on the technique’s similarity to a phone released by Swedish company Neonode Inc two years before the iPhone’s 2007 launch.

Yes, Neonode had a smartphone with the slide to unlock feature a year before the iPhone. The company is yet to comment on this.

The patent court had found that the Neonode Nim had similar technical and patented features, which is why Apple’s easier-to-use interface was not in itself patentable.

The difference between its implementation and Apple's is that Neonode used pure text to give instructions while Apple added a slider visual. The German court, however, considered that it was a negligible difference.

The important point here is that this ruling only applies to Germany, meaning it has no effect in other countries around the world.

Still, it could be used as a precedent, as the patent battle between Samsung and Apple continues to rage.