A Munich court has sided with Apple over Motorola in a patent dispute regarding Apple's European version of slide-to-unlock. The popular screen unlock function is present on almost every Motorola Droid handset, and Apple claims that it violates their intellectual property under patent EP1964022. This particular patent's language is very broad, and Apple had originally hoped to cover any and all slide-to-unlock features, but the court ruled that the patent did not cover circular slide-to-unlocks which are present in Android's Honeycomb release.
Although the ruling is final, Motorola has announced that they will appeal. Apple could ask for a permanent injunction now, but would have to put up quite a bit of cash for damages in case they lost on appeal. This is where it gets interesting. Many, including other German courts, question the validity of Apple's patent, calling slide-to-unlock technology "prior art". This alleges that slide-to-unlock technology was made available to the public before Apple's patent application. The most notable example of this prior art is the Neonode N1m, a device which featured slide-to-unlock technology.
Needless to say, the appeal could get pretty interesting so keep a look out and we'll keep you posted. Until then, do you think slide-to-unlock is intellectual property, or do you think the technology belongs in public domain? Let us know in our forums.