German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

Summary: While the Galaxy Tab ban across Europe is lifted, Germany is still banning the tablets, with it threatening to set precedent in other countries.

TOPICS: Apple, Legal, Samsung, Tablets

A German court has upheld a ban issued last month on selling the Samsung Galaxy Tab in Germany.

The court banned the sale of the device in the country, after allegations made by Apple said that the device mimicked the look and feel of the iPad, citing the "minimalist, modern form" of the two competing products gave a "clear impression of similarity".

Last month's decision led to a preliminary Europe-wide injunction, but it was later lifted amid concerns about the court's power in imposing such a broad embargo.

Samsung had challenged the original continent-wide injunction, telling CNET that it had "no idea" Apple was seeking an injunction.

Samsung and Apple's bitter legal scuffle is one of many currently ongoing, seemingly connected by the Android platform. Though Android does not appear in the case, the mobile operating system seems to be the gravity that holds it all together.

Apple really is the thorn in the side of Samsung at the moment; a competitor it wants to clearly wants to kill, but to cause it pain in the process.

The U.S. International Trade Commission is currently reviewing whether to block the imports of some Samsung phones and tablets into the United States.

Meanwhile, a court in the Netherlands banned three Samsung phones following an Apple suit, for which Samsung filed a counter-suit to prevent the blocking. The case there continues.

The ongoing patent spat continues, with Apple suing Samsung over patents relating to design and physical attributes, whilst Samsung is counter-suing Apple for allegedly infringing wireless networking patents.

One worry for Samsung is that the victory in Germany could be used as case precedence around the world.

Samsung already has battles to fight across Europe, as well as the United States, Asia and Australia. Only this week, Apple filed a suit against Samsung in Japan, spreading the cases further across the world.

But if Apple can succeed in Germany, the worry is that it could perpetuate further victories around the world.

Related content:

Topics: Apple, Legal, Samsung, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

    The ban is based on a EU design, not a patent. The key difference is that the validity of designs is not tested at all. Invalidating the design based on pre-existing designs would seem to be Samsung's best option
    • Pre-exisiting designs had nothing to do with tablet functionality *at all*

      @jwalaski: these were either portable televisions like in the old films, or photo frames, or whatever else but never tablet computers (old HP3000 tablet had shaped frame/bezel/border, even though thin, and had physical keyboard, so it was nothing like iPad).<br><br>What tablets were before iPad is shown here:<br><br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><br><br><b>Samsung has no chances in any fair court.</b> They better follow Sony's way and hire their own designers to come up with something that it is not a copy of Apple's design.
      • Please crawl under a rock and leave us alone.


        Am I the only one getting tired of all the Aplle fanbois whingeing? Why cant you all just be happy with what you have and leave the others to do what they want? Keep it up and there will be real anti Apple illwill. I'm feeling it myself and have aborted any plans to get a macbook. I've still got the company ipad (mostly unused) and simply use Virtualbox to run OSX. That does me for testing user issues on our systems.. the real deal would have been nice BUT aint going to happen now.
      • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

        @DeRSSS You, sir, are completly wrong about this Community Design (CD) suit issue.<br>Photo frames and portable tv does have an impact of quality of the Community Design filing, as it has been shown in the Dutch court before. Samsung didn't just presented that 2001 Kubrick claim to the German court, they also presented 2 other CD prior arts designs. <br><br>The reason Apple win in German this time because discovery/investigation isn't required for preliminary injunction suits, the German court just based on the assumption that Apple's CD is valid regardless how obvious is the design. In additional, German's court has no obligation to follow the Dutch court's ruling and reasoning.<br><br>Mind you this time the Judge basically saying Samsung could design a "none minimalist design" but didn't state Apple's CD is not obvious. That goes to Community Design dispute court and by itself could take another year.<br><br>Apple having a Community Design doesn't mean they're innovative since Community Design filing (shockingly!) doesn't do any prior art check at all. <br><br>If Apple's CD has been invalidated they will be on hook for the damage of the injuction that was imposted on Samsang.
      • 'Obvious' design is what depicted in the picture from the link I posted ...

        @Samic: ... above: shaped plastic bezel/border/frame tablet, all of which were that way, not only Samsung, before iPad was released.<br><br>And since Apple's patent is for <i>tablet computer</i>, and not for any design, the "Prior Art" in this field is exactly these shaped bezel/border/frame tablets, which were "obvious" before iPad.<br>
        Also, Apple's patent application was checked, it is required by law for CD (if requirements are not met, then registration is denied according to paragraph 47 of the law).
        <br>However, lets see how further trials will unfold. The matter is complicated in legal nuances, so some courts might not return fair results.
      • DeRSSS: Please share with us your professional legal opinion

        @DeRSSS <br>"The matter is complicated in legal nuances, so some courts might not return fair results."<br><br>What was unfair about the Netherlands ruling?<br><br>Or are judges that disagree with laymen like you when it comes to court rulings automatically being unfair? I can picture you now, in the Dutch court, standing up and screaming at the judge "BUT THAT ISN'T FAIR and here are some pictures from appleinsider (a totally unbiased source) to prove it".
      • Addition: please notice that the law cites 'relevant sector' within part ..

        @Samic: ... where requirements for novelty is discussed.<br><br>Imagined videophones like in Cubric's film and Sony's photo frames, as I said above, <b>do not belong to 'relevant sector' the law talks about.</b>
      • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

        You keep using that RDM's (from the known tech sockpuppetee Daniel Eran Dilger) picture as proof that it was taken Samsung's design out of context.

        Now let me present you Samsung's Photo frame:

        If you take a look of all the past designs with the Galaxy Tab and it's not hard to see it's actually a series of design iteration, each with better battery and component manufacturing technology:

        It's getting very hard to take you seriously if you keep using that bad example.
      • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent


        a. Citing Appleinsider as a primary unbiased source is very very stupid. Very stupid.
        b. You don't get to say the design is original because the previous tablet had a Windows OS and this tablet is running Linux. If you're arguing design elements, the OS isn't relevant.
        c. Most places in the world wouldn't allow this type of injunction at all. US court precedent has already established that you can't trademark a red sole.
        d. Reducing the size and mass of devices as been a functional industry trend for 60 years. Therefore, if Apple wants to make trademarkable design implementations, they should be of no functional use and/or make the device larger and more cumbersome. If there is justice in Germany, they will ultimately find that the Apple case has no grounding in reason or the law and impose stiff penalties for wasting the courts time and abusing the law to restrain trade.
      • It is harder to take you seriously if you continue to ignore Community ...

        @Samic: ... Design core principle in determining novelty and validity of patents, which is <b>"relevant sector".</b><br><br>No amount of real or imagined products which have nothing to do with the subject category are relevant. Portable videophones or digital photo frames are not tablet computers. I could come up with a mirror shaped as rectangle with black bezel, but this would mean nothing.<br><br>And the image I used in the post above is perfectly correct. These are real Samsungs' tablets and phones. <br><br>Even if we would artificially widen the scope/sector to non-relevant area (what is impossible under Community Design law), then still there is no way how anyone would consider this design as "Prior Art":<br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a></a></a></a></a><br><br>And even if Samsung would claim it used its own design from the frame's front side (what is not legally possible since you can not conveniently take apart designs to avoid responsibility for infringing others' patents), then still it has to explain how come the corners of their tablet became more rounded than they were in 2006 photo frame, as well as why white border all of sudden became "metallic". Also, the fact that Samsung quickly abandoned that photo frame design (no "white border" line is in any Samsungs' photo frames for years) and "remembered" about it only after iPad was released. But, again, nothing of this is relevant, since actual shape of the said photo frame is nothing like of iPad, and this is not "relevant sector" anyway.
      • DeRSSS: Present us with your credentials

        @DeRSSS <br>Give it up or present us with your credentials because you are simply making stuff up right now.<br><br>If you want the opinion of a real lawyer (not the opinions of someone who plays one on ZDNet) look no further than here:<br><br><br>Who is the author?<br><br>"This blog is written by author and educator Andis Kaulins, J.D. Stanford University Law School ('71); alumnus of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an international law firm headquartered in New York City; former FFA Law Lecturer in Anglo-American Law, University of Trier, Germany"<br><br>Amazing though how DeRSSS, with no credentials, believes he knows more about this than Andis Kaulins.<br><br>Admit it DeRSSS, you are simply making stuff up now. Or present us with credentials.<br><br>Your choice.
      • Read FOSS patents then, if you want credentials, and the conclusion there

        @toddybottom: ... will not make you happy. So it is pointless here to insert any opinions since they negate each other. Thus I never cite opinions exactly for this reason.

        If you can not come up with counter-argument on the essence of the discussed subject, then you can not. Citing opinions of "authority", as I said, is useless since there is always other "authority" that cancels it.

        Read the law yourself, read about legal practice and court definitions about the matter and you will be able to discuss the matter with very concrete points as I do.

        This will take some time and effort of you, but there is no other way. From what I have read from you, you are definitely smart to be capable of doing so.
      • Ultimately it is only the court's opinion that counts

        And so far we have a Dutch court that believes Samsung's tablet is not a copy of the iPad and a German court that does.

        Since at least 1 court has deemed that Samsung's tablet is not a copy, all your blabber about "relevant sectors" and "it isn't fair to just look at the front of the picture frame" is all garbage. Clearly this isn't as open and shut a case as you, someone completely unqualified to practice law, would have us believe. Clearly, because a real lawyer, someone completely qualified to practice law, made no mention of "relevant sectors" or "taking apart designs" when showing Samsung's picture frame, these are not relevant in this case.

        I'm not suggesting for a second that Samsung is clear and free because of this picture frame. It would be stupid of me to suggest that this was an open and shut case (as you are doing). I'm merely calling you out because you have been telling us over several posts about what is legal and not legal, what is "fair" and "unfair" and yet you are completely unqualified to do so. You clearly don't truly understand what is going on.
      • Read FOSS patents???

        Really? You've just lost all my respect there.

        Did you know who Florian Mueller is? Lets take a guess:
        A) a lawyer
        B) an engineer
        C) A and B
        D) Just a guy who has a blog, a "activist-turned-analyst"

        I admit he is a good source for legal matters, but I won't take his option or analysis over, let's say, a lawyer.
      • I did not talk about formality; I talked about authority

        As to English journal for intellectual property, "Managing Intellectual Property," Mueller has the authority. He is listed among the "top 50 most influential people in intellectual property" of 2005 there. One can not count how many IP lawyers have no weight, despite being formally certified. Heck, even the likes of Steven Jobs never had graduation. So no, authority is authority, and these kinds of opinions do contradict each other in many areas, including IP. Thus no point to use it, use the law and concrete arguments from it, as well as court rulings and definitions.<br><br>But I agree with Toddy that eventually will have to wait for further court decision. For now, SGT is not selling in Germany and Australia, but whether the list of countries where SGT is not sold will expand or not is to be seen.
  • I'm not a lawyer but I do have an issue with this concept of precedence

    I have a "logic" issue with your use of the concept of precedence, Zack.

    Just because a German Court ruling was made on this issue does not imply a necessary cascading judicial effect across other EU jurisdictions.

    That type of effect may well happen but it will be a result of self evident and independent observations. For example, a German Court rules that the sky is blue when the German sky is viewed at high noon on a cloudless day. A French court may rule as well that the sky is blue when a frenchman views the the sky over France at high noon on a cloudless day.

    In the French case, the jurist would not have to cite a German court ruling. Precedence would not be an issue here.

    If other EU member states rule against Samsung on this issue, it will be an independent ruling. (Of course, human nature being what it is, I'm sure those other jurist will be aware of what the German court ruled on this matter and might be influenced by that decision.)
    • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

      @kenosha7777 Precedent of course does not cross borders. However, my point is that other countries where lawsuits are filed by Apple, could look at the German ruling and think, "well, Germany says this, so we should take that into account too".
      • RE: German court reduces EU-wide Galaxy Tab ban; Concern for worldwide precedent

        @zwhittaker Interestingly, it seems that the Dutch court has previously considered the same EU design and has decided in favour of Samsung, based on the prior availability of similar designs, which are not considered by the German court
      • They do not have to, they just need to look at the device with the eyes ...

        @zwhittaker: ... opened and see the obvious:
      • Dutch court never mentioned prior designs in their decision

        @jwalaski: (the point was just among Samsungs' many counterarguments) especially since there was never a <i>tablet computer</i> with flat-surfaced minimalistic design, ever (neither real, nor imagined). Designs of photoframes (as Sony's) or portable televisions (like in the old films) are irrelevant since these depict devices of different functionality.