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Apple returns 3G devices to German store as injunction quickly suspended

Just hours after word began to spread that Apple was forced to pull most of its 3G devices from its German online store following an injunction awarded to Motorola, the iPhone maker successfully had the ruling suspended and has recommenced sales.

 ”All iPad and iPhone models will be back on sale through Apple’s online store in Germany shortly” Apple said in a statement. “Apple appealed this ruling because Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.”

Motorola in December was successful at achieving an injunction against the products based on alleged infringement of a wireless standard FRAND patent owned by its rival. However, with the ban set to go into effect today, Apple was able to suspend the injunction at the last minute by arguing that Motorola refused to license the 3G/UMTS patent in question under FRAND terms.

Because FRAND (“fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) patents have been "declared essential" in implementing open industry standards such as 3G and WiFi, a vendor's attempt to use them as leverage against a specific competitor would be considered anti-competitive, because it creates a monopoly within what is supposed to be openly interoperable standard.

As such, it's possible that Motorola could come under intense scrutiny from the European Comission should Apple be able to prove that Motorola ins't abiding by FRAND guidelines.

This is a situation the Samsung currently faces after the Comission announced on Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation to decide whether Samsung's use of standard-essential FRAND patents as leverage in high profile cases, such as the company's worldwide battle with Apple, violates EU antitrust laws.