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Apple iPhones, iPads make quick return to German online stores

Hours after pulling products from its online store, Apple got a ban on its products temporarily halted.

Well, that was a quick turnaround.

Apple's iPhone 4S and Motorola's Droid Bionic.
A showdown between Apple and Motorola. Apple, Motorola

Hours after Apple said it was pulling various iPhones and iPads from its German online store, the company turned around and said the products would be back shortly.

It all had to do with a ban that was placed on its products, based on Motorola Mobility successfully getting a ruling from a German court that Apple's products illegally used Motorola's 3G cellular technology. While the decision was in December, Motorola just now got around to enforcing the ban now, forcing Apple to initially decide to halt sales of iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 models and various 3G versions of the iPad because they carried technology related to 3G UMTS.

But Apple got a temporary stay of execution by arguing that the Motorola patent is essential to the industry, and should be licensed in under a fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory basis. Apple claimed Motorola wasn't being reasonable in negotiating a licensing deal, which puts the case back into limbo.

"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," said an Apple spokeswoman.

Motorola, meanwhile, said it would continue to defend its intellectual property.

"We are pleased that the Mannheim court has recognized the importance of our intellectual property and granted an enforceable injunction in Germany against Apple Sales International," said a Motorola spokeswoman. "Although the enforcement of the injunction has been temporarily suspended, Motorola Mobility will continue to pursue its claims against Apple."

Motorola argued that it had approached Apple in 2007 with fair licensing terms and attempted to work out a deal for three years.

"Apple's refusal to negotiate in good faith, as well as their aggressive litigation campaign against Android, left Motorola Mobility with no option other than to seek to enforce the company's rights and patent portfolio," Motorola said. The company added it remains committed to licensing rather than litigation.

The ongoing drama in Germany is but a small sliver of the wider legal clashes between Apple and Android vendors, including heavy hitters such as Samsung Electronics. Each case is an attempt to deliver a knockout blow to the other side, which would come in the form of a ban on all products. Such an extensive ban would force both sides to the negotiating table to sign a cross-licensing deal.