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Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 09:54 am PT (12:54 pm ET)

Apple reaches patent licensing deal with Motorola in Germany

Apple and Motorola have inked an agreement in Germany that gives Apple the right to use some, if not all, of Motorola's standard-essential patents in that country.

Intellectual property expert Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents described the deal as a "significant development" in his analysis published on Tuesday. The deal means that Motorola Mobility, which is owned by Google, will now need to rely on non-standard essential patents in its ongoing patent infringement litigation against Apple.

"With such standard-essential patents, it appears that the only thing Google (Motorola) can do now against Apple in Germany is to push for as high a royalty rate as possible, but even in a hypothetical worst-case scenario to Apple, the limit will be the 2.25% rate that Motorola has been demanding for a long time," Mueller wrote.

The agreement between Apple and Motorola was revealed in a court filing made this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Though the patent licensing deal came to light this week, it's unknown exactly when the deal was first reached.

"Most likely, this Motorola-Apple license agreement at a FRAND rate left to be determined by the courts was concluded during this month of August," Mueller said.

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The details were disclosed only days after the U.S. International Trade Commission completed its review of a Motorola patent infringement complaint against Apple. The ITC ruled against an import ban on Apple's iPhone and iPad, as the commission determined that the devices do not infringe on certain wireless technology patents owned by Motorola Mobility.

Both Apple and Motorola have had some success against one another in patent infringement lawsuits filed in Germany. Late last year, Motorola won a temporary injunction against the iPhone and iPad over 3G patents in Germany, while Apple also earned an injunction against Motorola for violating its slide-to-unlock patent.