A judge in Germany this morning took a small step toward getting the world at least a little closer to cutting down on the vast number of mobile patent suits floating around.
Judge Andreas Voss of the Mannheim Regional Court today threw out two lawsuits between Apple and Samsung. According to Reuters, which was first to report on the story, one of the cases the judge threw out involved a claim made by Apple that Samsung violated a slide-to-unlock patent it holds. FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller reported that the judge also threw out a patent claim Samsung brought against Apple over 3G/UMTS functionality.
But before you get too excited thinking an end to these cases is near, beware that Samsung said today in a statement that it was displeased with the court's dismissal of its claim and would appeal it to the Higher Regional Court in Karlsruhe.
Germany has been a hotbed of lawsuit activity over the last year as just about every major mobile device provider, including Apple, Samsung, and Motorola, has been arguing cases in the country. Although few disputes have yielded the respective plaintiff's desired results, Apple has won a few cases against Samsung. One of the more notable victories came last year when Apple was able to force a sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The victory was short-lived, however, since Samsung launched a revised version of the tablet, called the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N. Apple argues that revision also violates patents it holds, but the device is still on sale in the country.
Apple, meanwhile, has been hit with losses here and there, but so far, nothing major has befallen the iPhone maker in its Samsung battles. Apple's biggest trouble in Germany has come byway of a ban on push e-mail services for MobileMe and iCloud, resulting from a judge ruling that it violated a patent Motorola Mobility holds for that functionality.
So, what's next for Apple in Germany? More patent lawsuit decisions. According to Mueller, the next decision in Apple's Samsung battle will come down on March 16, and several more will likely pop up around then between Apple and Motorola.
"It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging," an Apple spokeswoman told CNET in an e-mailed statement today. "This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
Update 9:30 p.m. PT to include Apple's statement.