Here at TUAW, we've found ourselves covering lawsuits around Apple quite a bit lately, especially in Germany, where Apple is getting sued by lots of companies, and then getting shut down by the courts. Ever wonder why so many companies sue in Germany, or why so many of Apple's arguments are stayed? Here comes FOSS Patents to the rescue, with this great piece on Apple's legal troubles.
The long and short of it is that in Germany, patents are challenged along two paths: Invalidity, and infringement. That is, first, a patent is examined for whether it's valid or not, and then second, it's examined against the product in question for actual infringement. Validity is determined much more quickly than infringement, and in Germany and the European patent system, the two paths are much more separate than anywhere else.
And why are Apple's patents being stayed so much? FOSS suggests that Apple expects this -- it's using a shotgun style for its patent fights, hoping that one of them eventually gets through and puts them at a point where they can really exploit that winning patent for all it's worth. Apple certainly has the cash and resources to play a lot of cards, and that's exactly what it's doing. Sooner or later, one of Apple's patents will stand, and then it will use that powerful patent to block competitors whenever possible.