Apple's EU legal win could prevent all OEMs from building tablets

Apple's EU legal win could prevent all OEMs from building tablets

Summary: Apple gets an injunction against the Galaxy Tab in Europe based on some very generic line drawings.

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A German court on Tuesday sided with Apple and granted the company a preliminary injunction which blocks the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union, excluding the Netherlands. But according to Nicole Scott of Netbook News, the patent could essential block ALL tablets, irrespective of operating system or maker.

Here's are images from the Community Design patent (#000181607) filed by Apple:

Here's what Scott has to say:

Take a look at the above design and tell me that doesn't look like EVERY TABLET on the market. Apple has just chosen the most competitive Android tablet on the market and taken it down. This Community Design patent by Apple has only been around since 2010 so clearly Apple didn't invent the tablet, Bert Keely, in 2000 at Comdex in Las Vegas the showed off Microsoft's vision for the Tablet PC. Look familiar? Kind of looks like the images above, how can Apple patent an entire product category? At any moment Apple could decide that any tablet is too much competition and file a suit!

I'm used to seeing pretty generic designs submitted in patent and trademark documents, but you've got to admit that those line drawings are very, very generic. But remember that it is on the basis of this that Samsung can no longer sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe.

But if Apple can get an injunction against the Galaxy Tab, what's to stop it getting similar injunctions against other Android tablets from other maker? Heck, what's to stop it going after Windows 8 tablets once they are available?

Apple seems to have a deadly weapon against tablets in the European Union, and it's not afraid to use it.

Who will be hit by an injunction next?

See also:

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Legal, Mobility, Tablets

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453 comments
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  • Where is the home button in that diagram?

    I don't see it.
    toddybottom
    • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

      @toddybottom ....totally disgusting and flaky of Pingguo ("apple" in mandarin). Control freaks. Totalitarian and fascist. Gonna try to prohibit Nova Scotia from exporting McIntosh apples next? Looking forward to my Blackberry tab in 2 weeks.
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @Feldwebel Wolfenstool
        I hope you and the ten people that bought it are happy despite not having any apps to speak of. No wonder RIM is going out of business. They should turn RIM into a hockey team, sell BlackBerrys as hockey pucks and they might make more money.
        ConstableOdo
      • It's crazy isn't it.

        Constableodo Please stop trolling and writing rubbish. If you've nothing sensible to say! Say nothing please.

        It's crazy that Apple get away with this sort of stuff. I'm writing this from my iPad as i was testing something but have an Asus transformer too. Personally I prefer using the transformers keyboard, as would others if they could just open their minds a little. This is much harder than it need be...... Let's hope the patent system sees sense and this is over thrown ASAP!
        johnmckay
    • An Extremely Simple Solution to Put Samsung Back in The Game

      The way around this lawsuit is so simple I'm sure Samsung is already working on this. All they (any other company) has to do is glue a few pieces of finger grip material around the device to make it appear different in appearance. This solution happens quite often with near-identical products. A few cosmetic alterations and it no longer appears the same.

      BUT... here's what I can't figure out... why the heck are all these tablet devices so incredibly identical to the iPad?? They really don't have to be. At a short distance almost all of them look so much like an iPad that you would believe they were all related. I've owned so many tablets over the years that looked nothing like an iPad (remember the HPC devices?) that it's obvious that the new crop of iPad wannabes really don't have to look as much like it as they do.

      Perhaps this lawsuit will force some originality out of Apple's competitors.
      camcost@...
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... Look, the iPad was not the first tablet. Just as the iPhone was not the first smart phone and the iPod was not the first digital player. Apple is trying to patent what was formerly open source technology and succeeding. I don't understand how they can do it, but it appears to be working. It seems ethics in business went South, when Sam Walton started Walmart. It seems to be the American way any more.
        Hazconj
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... I wonder why the Fridge or microwave designer or factory did not sue other brands due to they are all look like the Same!!
        edwardzeng
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... The GT2 isn't even the same aspect ratio as the iPad. It's obvious at a glance that they're different shapes and sizes.
        daengbo
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@...
        They look alike because they are all skinny(apples gotten us thinking smaller is better) and they are black as thats what sells. They have a flat screen, they are rounded(again smaller is ingrained as better) They are all square as thats how a web page or video should be formatted. Apples every bit the evil empire they've claimed for years microsoft was lol
        ditkazbearz
      • Transformer doesn't look like this

        @camcost@... The back is textured, more tapered, and brown. The edges have ports and buttons, and one has mountpoints for the keyboard dock lock. The sides of the bezel are textured and make a separate metal frame that is half the thickness of the unit at its thickest point. Back and front have camera lenses. Not the same look at all.
        symbolset
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@...
        What you failed to understand is that a tablet's design is obviously like the iPad. Even _if_ Apple did not yet release an iPad, tablets will generally look the same, a rectangular device. Why? We now have wide-screen computer monitors available and it is very uncomfortable if we design a tablet's display differently other than our wide-screen monitor, so the community design is very generic.
        LinuxUser&XPGamerGraphic
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... You are missing the point on this one, the patent should never have been issued. This isn't a new innovative idea (the drawing). There needs to be some real definition of what this is. This only identifies a problem with the patent process.
        mschore@...
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... I am sorry, but I think that there are way too many patents based general looks or designs that should not patentable. The whole point of a patent is that the end product should have some feature that is truly unique. It is this kind of crap that stifles innovation where it counts.

        In fact some argue that patents should be much more limited in scope. They point out, for instance, that there is no such thing as a patent on apparel designs and yet this does not stifle innovation in that industry, in fact it makes the industry far more competitive.

        I am not arguing that there should be no patents, but we maybe should consider having shorter patent periods or perhaps periods that vary by type of patent. Whatever the end result, I doubt that Apple's claim will eventually hold up.
        hjs1951
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... They all look the same because its a 'dominant' design. You must be aware as to what happened with bicycles ages ago. They have stopped making three tired bicycles.. n all. This will happen with tablets too. Apple knows what it's doing. Sooner or later every tablet manufacturer will adopt this design, hence the reason why Apple have patented it.
        Zyks
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@...
        I have received more comments to this than normal. I stand by my statement... add a few simple embellishments to make it look slightly different. It's similar to an automobile. Most cars serve the same basic function, and their body sits on four similar tires. But there's a huge, vast difference in the way each car looks... that's what design is all about. You take the 'basically similar' product and you make it your own! As a designer, I could easily take the iPad and present it in a somewhat different way than what Motorolla, Samsung, Toshiba, Viewsonic, Asus, Blackberry, and the minions of Chinese knockoffs have done. Every device which has hit the market after the iPad has a design too similar to be ignored. And yet, if you look at the many tablets which were around before the iPad, you will notice a much wider variety in design. Even Archos, which has offered a good variety of differently designed device over the years has curtailed and now offering tablets which look more like an iPad than they ever did before.

        But you're all partially wrong if you consider this to be an Apple VS them/us/other war. It is much more of a war on what can be patented and what can't... especially when it comes to design. Get rid of design and we go back in time when most cars were built and sold with black paint and similar appearance.
        camcost@...
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@...
        I wholeheartedly agree with you. Tablets don't NEED to look the same. In fact, I'd love to see a little variety in the market.

        HOWEVER... I see exactly WHY they all look the same. And I think your comment touched on it, even though you weren't really trying to. They all look the same precisely BECAUSE they want to all look like the iPad. It's hard to tell them apart because the manufacturers don't really WANT you to tell them apart. As shallow as it is, there are a lot of people who don't want to buy an iPad, but still want their friends to think they're cool enough to have one.

        In one of your follow-up posts, you mention "Most cars serve the same basic function, and their body sits on four similar tires. But there's a huge, vast difference in the way each car looks", so I'll use that same industry to prove my point. Were you around in the 80's? The Volkswagen Rabbit? It came out and was the hottest thing on the market, and suddenly every auto maker had a vehicle that looked exactly like it. Why? Because those other manufacturers wanted to capture a bit of the market by offering customers who weren't terribly enamored with Volkswagen the opportunity to drive around in something that still LOOKED like they were driving around in a Rabbit.

        Too bad VW didn't have a generic line drawing of a hatchback.
        csteinola
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@... The fact of the matter is they 'have' to make it look like an iPad, iPhone, iPod or people won't buy them. Apple didn't 'invent' the smart phone, they just perfected it. Apple didn't invent the tablet computer, they just perfected it. Copying perfection is the last refuge of the untalented.
        dheady@...
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @camcost@...

        they are emulating the paper tablets they take their name from
        erik.soderquist
    • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

      @toddybottom I see it, I also see every phone and flat screen TV from my 24" sylvania LCD in my kitchen to my 55" Panasonic plasma or my 19" Acer LCD monitor, sence the mounts are not physically part of the body then they would not show up on a design, tomorrow I am filing a pattent for a vehicle with 2 or more wheels and 0 or more axles with a source for propultion and shaped like the most genaric modes of transportation , then I will fight apple on their suit, or get the most rediculous rights to royalties of all time any time you buy anything with 2+ wheels I would get royalties or I could bar its sale/production, that, cough cough Apple, is rediculous
      Feds Against Guns
      • RE: Apple's patent could prevent ALL OEMs from building tablets

        @Feds Against Guns I read a great sci-fi short story where the end reveal was that a fellow had ended up patenting the circle. :-) Little did I know art was imitating real life....
        jgm@...