Apple launches fresh Samsung suits in Germany

Apple launches fresh Samsung suits in Germany

Summary: Apple has launched two new suits against Samsung in the German courts, this time targeting 15 Samsung smartphones and tablets over their supposed infringement of Apple's design rights.The two companies are engaging in a global war over patents, with Germany having proved to be a particularly active battlefield.

TOPICS: Telcos

Apple has launched two new suits against Samsung in the German courts, this time targeting 15 Samsung smartphones and tablets over their supposed infringement of Apple's design rights.

The two companies are engaging in a global war over patents, with Germany having proved to be a particularly active battlefield. Before the suits reported on Tuesday, the last shot was fired by Samsung less than a month ago, when the company sued Apple for allegedly infringing on four patents, including one for entering smiley faces on screens.

Apple filed the new suits in the Düsseldorf district court. According to Bloomberg, one of the suits names 10 Samsung smartphones, while the other relates to five Samsung tablet models.

Apple's attacks over the supposed design similarities between Samsung's tablets and the iPad line have already forced Samsung to redesign its Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market, changing the edges and making the company logo more prominent. The revised version is called the Galaxy Tab 10.1N.

The US company has tried to get the Galaxy Tab 10.1N banned as well, but the district court said just before Christmas (PDF, in German) that it was disinclined to stop sales of the revamped device.

As patent observer Florian Mueller noted on his FOSS Patents blog, Apple has not gone for preliminary injunctions in its latest suits, as it did with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 action. This means nothing much is likely to happen until the hearings kick off in August for the smartphones and September for the tablets.

In the US battle to thwart Samsung, Apple's lawyers said last October that competitors should not make rectangular phones with a screen on front and an uncluttered appearance, and that only Apple should be allowed to make thin, rectangular tablets with flat surfaces and thin bezels.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Boring Apple very as they are, iPhones feel like horrible bricks and have become very dated in feel. The HTC Rhyme that I won courtesy of Cnet Australia feels much more hi tech and swish than an iPhone, and it's not a particularly fast model! I feel so much more free now. I can do things my way and not Apple's way. Yawn, just get on with developing those super long lasting batteries will you Apple?
    roger andre
  • One has to wonder why they don't do something truly innovative, instead of sitting on their laurels and sticking with the old design. The old design was innovative in its day but the market has moved on A LOT since the iPhone 4 was designed and there is nothing innovative about "Siri" really - as Steve Wozniak has noticed. All they're doing with these lawsuits is pushing up the price of handsets for everyone.
  • Same old Same old - as they say. When those nice people at Apple went to Samsung and said 'Can you sort us out with some bits to make this?', taking out some sketches of what they are planning, Chances are those nice people at Samsung said, 'Yes, no problem'. Thats how these things usually go. Now, if the design was such a hot topic, then usually agreements would be drawn up and signed to stop the supplier making their own and selling it. Mmm, I can't help but wonder if someone forgot to do the paperwork here.
    Either way, as the last paragraph of this article points out, the description there more or less covers every phone and tablet out there, and basically there's no way of making them without that design philosophy.
    The patent issue's are getting plain silly now. Patents for shapes of icons, how they are applied, etc. - The main point is the patent offices need to get a grip and tell these companies there's nothing new about what they are doing and it's all prior art. Who did what first seems to be missed here, and its always debateable who was first. As you hear more about the iPhone in design and how its software is put together, the question comes 'Did Apple actually design any of it?'. Read around and you will find out what I mean there.
    For those feeling the need for a bit of enlightenment on the whole issue, check out and search for tablet. There you will find hundreds of Apple / Samsung rip-offs running on various OS's ready to buy and ship anywhere in the world for around the $50 mark, and the biggest shocker is how similar they are to the much more expensive items we know. I guess when you give a design to the chinese to manufacture, there's no way you can stop it being copied.
  • I find allot of whats being said here quite amusing. Comments about the look of the iPhone and how it was once innovative, and that the market has moved on etc. Firstly we should be clear on a couple of things: 1) I question what the appearance of smartphone would be, had Apple not created the iPhone in the first place and would the market be saturated with 'me toos' as it is today? 2) The reason Apples current design hasn't changed, probably has something to do with the increasing sales of the iPhone and that it's still outselling the competition, and retains its majority market share (They must be doing something right?). When your ahead in any market, your next moved always needs to be carefully considered, I would imagine that is what Apple are doing, as well as trying to come up with the next breakthrough design.
    As to the question of who supplies what hardware, artwork etc to go in to the iPhone, well wouldn't it be true to say that all design borrows from somewhere, the important thing, surely is how you combine all those influences and innovations. Apple has proved its ability to create user friendly innovative products time and time again, and ultimately its the whole package people buy into. Also if other manufactures phones are so good, then they should be able to stand on those merits. Samsung may supply components for apples products, but lets face it, we don't see apple trying to sell flatscreen TVs that look like Samsungs do we?
    Why did so many business user switch to iPhones in the later part of last year? Lets face it the other phone manufactures have been clambering to keep up with the iPhone since its first release. And if we're totally honest, only now are they really coming out with similar competitive products. At least Blackberry have always stayed true to there own design philosophy and products.
    All I know is, if I owned a multinational company I wouldn't be looking at Apple thinking lets get a piece of that pie by creating the same thing, I'd be thinking how can we make something better and set our-self apart from the competition.
  • It is interesting to note that the European Court of Justice in another IPR case, upheld a ruling in 2010 that a functional technical shape cannot become the property of any one company. It would seem that Apple's lawyers in making the statements "competitors should not make rectangular phones with a screen on front and an uncluttered appearance, and that only Apple should be allowed to make thin, rectangular tablets with flat surfaces and thin bezels." are wanting to overturn this decision.
  • Am I the only person on the planet that sees Apples 'innovative' design for a tablet as a laptop without a keyboard and the electronics compressed behind - how is that innovative or even patentable it is just a technological progression? And the iPhone - um yes though not as advanced I know but I had a HTC MDA with a touch screen about 3 years before the birth of this wunderkind which was perfectly able to access the web, play music, watch video etc etc etc and with a 4gig memory card making it better than most mp3 players of that time too - again - aside from the gestures - where exactly is the innovation here?
  • I think it's important to remember that the success of the iPhone isn't just about how innovative there products are, or are not. Fundamentally there is a philosophy that goes behind everything they do, which is enabled by the infrastructure they have built around their products. Its not that others haven't already made a touch screen device or whatever, but more the fact that they haven't got the infrastructure round that product to offer there customers the experience they get with Apple. I remember those first HTC devices and whilst impressive at the time there was allot of stuff that wasn't user friendly, and setting it up meant going through numerous menus using what was to be honest quite a clunky user interface and a stylus (and I'm not comparing it to the later iPhone but even a mid level nokia at the time had a friendlier UI).

    Anyway I'd like to go back to the point I made in my previous post, which is, if other manufacturers were already innovating and supposedly doing all the things that Apple have done, then they should be able to stand on there own merits. So why is it that before the iPhone, smart phones very much followed their particular brand design aesthetic... but after changed to look like iPhone clones. Is it because more people bought the iPhone? and if apple are not innovating, then why is it that more and more people are buying apple products, over the competition. It can't just be the way the product looks, can it? I remember allot of the smart phones still had keypads as well and there was allot of debate as to whether or not the touch screen was as efficient for typing. Yet all the big boys seemed to have adopted that approach now.

    There's an interesting comparison of before the iPhone and iPad, and after below, I think it illustrates the point I'm making quite well.
  • Take the hardware aside and look at the user interface, this is where apple have won hands down on innovation, their interface and ease of use is what sold the iphone.

    There are only so many ways you can have a handheld device with a bezel and flat screen? PDA's and other devices have been using touch screen for long before iPhone came out, so there is nothing new there (maybe some question of multi-touch and gestures) but look at handwriting recognition on PDA's of old (before i-everthing), isn't that recognizing patterns to interpret as UI interaction?

    There is prior art everywhere, and for apple to think they have the rights to a flat screen, bezel etc, is just plain ridiculous and shows how complacent they have become... and as for MacOS wasn't that just a unix core with a UI on top?

    Again, apple is all about the usability and interface, i.e. form as well as function....this debate could go on for years....

    Whats next car manufacturers arguing over how many wheels a car should have? maybe ford should patent the 4 wheel vehicle and apply to ban sales of any other car with 4 wheels.....see my point? Cars all look very similar and all have the same concepts, but you don't see patent spats between them in the news everyday?

    Competition is what apple are afraid of, and samsung/android are certainly giving them some headaches now....meanwhile I will just carry on with my trusty Nokia N8 which does everything I need it to do. Oh, and the battery lasts for days not hours ;-)