Apple halts "push" email services in Germany

Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:56am EST

Raindrops are seen in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in Shanghai February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song

Raindrops are seen in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in Shanghai February 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

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(Reuters) - Apple Inc has been forced to de-activate "push" notification features for mobile users of its iCloud and MobileMe services in Germany, after an injunction was issued in favor of rival Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

Customers using push services -- which automatically inform users about new messages on iPhones, iPods or iPads -- will now not be able to use them within the borders of Germany, Apple said on its German support website.

However, users can get around that suspension of push services by adjusting their settings so that devices download new email at regular intervals, it added.

Apple said its push email service on Mac desktops, laptops and the Internet is not affected.

Apple and Motorola -- which Google Inc is in the process of acquiring -- are engaged in global patent litigation, part of a broader legal fight over the smartphone market, with billions of dollars at stake.

A court in Mannheim three weeks ago granted a permanent injunction against the push-email service of Apple's iCloud, and any devices that can access it.

According to patent expert Florian Mueller, Motorola sent Apple an enforcement letter demanding compliance with the patent injunction.

Mueller said on his widely watched blog, Foss Patents, that the "Motorola patent at issue in that litigation harks back to the time of pagers, a predecessor of text messages."

"Apple believes this patent is invalid and is appealing the decision," the company said on the website.

The same court ruled in December that Apple Sales International -- the company's European sales subsidiary in Cork, Ireland -- must stop selling or distributing mobile devices that infringe upon certain Motorola cellular communications patents.

That forced Apple to briefly halt the sale of the iPhone 3G and 4 models and some iPads on its German online store. Apple was cleared to resume selling the older models via its online store on February 3.

(Reporting By Nicola Leske; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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