Galaxy S III and iPhone 4S

Motorola and Samsung just caught a break from the law after a few hard knocks. A Mannheim, Germany court has ruled that neither company infringes on an Apple patent covering how an OS responds to and ignores touch events. While we don't yet know the full details, patent lawsuit guru Florian Mueller suggests that the German judge took the same point of view that thwarted Apple's claims in the Netherlands and the UK: the particular patent was just too broad to stick. It's a potentially important win, as a ruling of violation could have led to serious problems with keeping Android-based Motorola and Samsung devices in stores; other patents are more easily circumvented. However, it's still something of a Pyrrhic victory for a pair of companies that have lately been facing the threat of near-term bans and steep damages.