Apple wins ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 in Europe

Apple wins ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 in Europe

Summary: A German court has granted Apple a preliminary injunction against the tablet, although this may conflict with a UK decision that cleared Samsung of copying the iPad


Apple has won an EU-wide preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet, after a German court decided the device infringes on Apple's design rights.

The ruling came down from the Düsseldorf regional court on Tuesday morning, according to the Dutch site Webwereld. However, the court also upheld an earlier decision stating that the Galaxy Tab 10.1N — itself a revised model that Samsung created to work around design infringements — did not copy Apple's designs.

Galaxy Tab 7.7
A German court has granted Apple a preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7. Image credit: CNET UK

"Samsung is disappointed with the court's ruling," the Korean manufacturer said in a statement. "We will continue to take all available measures, including legal action, to protect our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple’s claims to ensure our products remain available to consumers throughout the European Union."

In Europe, design patents, or so-called 'community designs', can be enforced on an EU-wide basis. This is the case with the Galaxy Tab 7.7: if Apple chooses to enforce the ban, it should theoretically come into force everywhere in Europe.

The only place it does not apply is Germany itself, but only because Apple has already won a ban on the device there, on competition-law grounds.

However, the situation in the UK is far from clear-cut. Just last week, High Court judge Colin Birss ordered Apple to put a notice on its site stating that Samsung's tablets do not copy its iPad designs. Earlier this month, the same judge said Samsung's were not copies of Apple's tablet, partly because they were "not as cool".

It remains to be seen whether the EU-wide ban or UK-specific court decision takes precedence here. ZDNet has asked a few patent lawyers for their opinion, but is yet to get a definitive answer.

Both the UK and German cases deal with alleged infringement of a tablet design that Apple registered in 2004, well before the iPad or even the iPhone came out. 

[NOTE: An earlier version of this story missed the fact that the 2004 designs were examined in the UK case, whereas they were of course central to the case. Duly corrected.]

Topics: Patents, Apple, Samsung, Tablets

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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  • Samsung just have to update the design to GT 7.7N state and Apple will not

    ... be able to stop the sales then -- like they can not with updated 10.1N designs.

    Apple might still think that "-N" design is too similar to iPad, yet court sees that there is clear difference now, so it does not grant Apple's request for ban of updated models.

    Of course, Apple states that they are not satisfied that they can not ban "-N" design SGTs, but in reality that are. Because now if is apparent that SGT 10.1N is not iPad. Originally, you could not discern iPad and SGT 10.1 if those are not lined in perfect angles.

    The situation is similar to hypothetical case if anyone would try to make an animation with Micky Mouse design and said that "it is original" (Samsung's words) just because it is made taller. Trade dress legislation does not allow this trick, and this is why Samsung was made to update SGT's design. 7-7.7" versions of SGT will be updated, too.
    • 4:3

      Is the Samsung a 16:9 screen or a 4:3 screen? Those two dimensions are severely different. I own both IPad and Android tablets and I'm never confused from one to the other.
  • Another reason to hate Apple

    Like I needed another one...
    • Why is this different...

      than trademarking the word "Windows"?
      Tony Burzio
      • Same different as any

        trademark different from patents.
      • Same difference as

        between any trademark and patent - think of it as apples and oranges if that helps. :-P
    • Absolutely!

      Because ANY company that defends it's IP - and wins in a court of law - is scum, sucks out loud, and should be reviled and hated across the land.
      • Spoken like a true

        Apple fanboi.. I have seen the sketches they pass off as patent drawings.. for those most phones these days could be mistaken for an ipad at a distance.
        This whole zoo is for one reason only, to kill off the competition before they can actually become competition. it worked well for Micro$. If they could not buy you, they just sued you to the stone age.. and it does not matter if they win or lose..every day you are prevented from selling your products, their's get that much further ahead. So they don't care if you finally win in a year or two.. by then they are ready to move on to their next target, I mean product.
        • Yes, and so has the rest of the internet

          Big deal. What I seriously doubt you have even looked at is the rest of the documentation presented in court. There is a reason Apple keeps winning these judgements over Samsung in court after court.
          • Yes

            That's why Apple has to put on there website that they didn't copy Apple...because Apple is winning these lawsuits.
  • I agree with the UK Court.

    Germans have always been over reaching in this area, imo.
    • You agree

      That Samsung should put a label on their tablets saying something like "not iPad" or "not as cool as an iPad"? :)
      • They say Samsung on them.

        The screen format is completely different. It's not a matter of something being longer or skinnier than another tablet. The screen format has a lot to do with it's functionality and design.

        Apple would have more of a case if the Samsung tablets had 9.7" screens.

        This is ridiculous.
        • As are all your comments

          The screen format is NOT completely different, it differs relatively based on one single parameter: it is taller.
      • How about the judge forcing Samsung...

        How about the judge forcing Samsung to put a statement on their website detailing how Samsung stole Apple's IP?
        • Wow seriously?

          Samsung created a rectangular computer sans keyboard?

          Did you look at the patent that Apple got approved in the EU? Here, take a look:

          Then ask yourself seriously how, in all that is sane and real in the world, did Apple get that approved as a patentable design?
          • Yes, we've all seen it

            And it is not the most relevant piece of data in the trade dress suit. Their trade dress patent is similar to millions of other trade dress patents over the last century, including those for the coke bottle. Whether you support trade dress patents or not, Apple's patent is a perfectly legitimate one, and Samsung clearly infringed.
          • there aren't even dimensions

            I just looked at the patent and there is no detail information. It's just a 4:3 rectangle. How can you get a patent based on that?
  • Of course it''s too similar with iPad

    Everybody knows that GT 7.7 is too similar and confused with 7-inch iPad!!!

    Oh wait...
    • Being that the dimensions are NOT mentioned in the patent

      ... and are not relevant tot he suit, WTF is your point?