German court lifts ban on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

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In a recent development, a German court temporarily lifted the original ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which prohibited any imports, promotions or selling of the tablet computer across most of the European Union except the Netherlands.

The ban was instated on Aug 9, following a lawsuit filed in a Dusseldorf court by Apple Inc, claiming the Korean technology stalwart ‘slavishly’ copied its design of the iPad. While the ban still holds in Germany, other EU countries are exempted, over concerns regarding the authority of a German court to place an EU-wide ban on a Korean company. Samsung Korea’s German affiliate, Samsung GmbH, is however, banned from trading Galaxy Tabs both outside and inside Germany.

Patent dispute blogger Florian Mueller wrote, “Apart from the immediate commercial benefits that this provides to Samsung, it’s an unpleasant situation for Apple. Should the court really find that the Dusseldorf court didn’t have personal jurisdiction over a Korean company, this would reinforce a lot of peoples’ impression that Apple’s enforcement of design-related rights is, even though understandable to a certain degree, overreaching in some areas”.

The Dusseldorf court has set the next hearing on Aug 25, following which, a final decision could be reached.

Global tussle for dominance

Apple Inc. and Samsung have been involved in similar lawsuits in the U.S, Australia, Japan and South Korea over allegations of patent infringement of Apple’s design of the iPad. Consequently, sales of the Galaxy Tab have been delayed in Australia.

Addressing this issue, Apple’s spokeswoman, Kristin Hueget said,”Its no coincidence that Samsungs latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apples intellectual property when companies steal our ideas”.

Meanwhile, Apple filed a separate case against Samsung in the Netherlands, with even broader allegations, requesting the Dutch court for a preliminary injunction. The court’s final decision, due on September 15, could have wider implications, as Dutch seaport Rotterdam is one of strategic importance to Samsung’s European logistics.

Interestingly, Samsung isn’t the only company engaged in a legal battle with Apple Inc. Handset makers HTC Corp. and Motorola Mobility Holdings are involved in several patent cases with Apple, over the use of Android operating system in their smartphones.

Questionable evidence

In a fresh revelation by Webwereld, a Dutch IT news site, some of the evidence presented by Apple Inc. in defence of its’ lawsuit against Samsung, is found to be misleading. The image of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is shown to be squashed in comparison to its original dimensions, making it look similar in appearance to Apple’s iPad, while in reality, the Galaxy tab is longer and narrower. Commenting on whether this was a deliberate attempt by Apple at manipulation of evidence, Mr. Mueller said,”No sane person at a law firm like Freshfields [which represents Apple] would seriously intentionally lie, so I rule out that part.

Samsung’s increasing market share

While Apple sold around 9.25 million iPads in the last quarter and around 14 million iPads in the first half of 2011, Samsung’s market share has been steadily increasing, the latter having sold around 7.5 million tablets in the first half of this year. Thus, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Galaxy smartphones are emerging as strong rivals to Apple’s iPad and iPhone and it remains to be seen how the outcomes of pending cases in the EU fuel or deter this trend in the coming months.

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