Apple loses one in its iPad tablet war with Samsung

A German court has made a preliminary ruling that Samsung's redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1 does not violates Apple's iPad intellectual property.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor


According to the German court, the top Samsung 10.1 tablet design doesn't violate Apple's iPad design. The bottom one does.

Take a long look at the two versions of Samung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the right. One, says a German court, violated Apple's iPad intellectual property (IP) design and thus couldn't be sold in the European Union (EU). The other one is fine and dandy and can be sold. Can you tell the critical IP differences? Try to work it out before this story's end.

As you may recall, Apple managed this summer to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned from being sold in the EU (European Union) because its design looked too much like an iPad. That was a dumb decision. Any tablet has to look pretty much like any other tablet. Now, though, it appears that the tide has turned against Apple. The German court has preliminarily decided that Samsung's revised design no longer violates Apple's iPad design.

According to the Reuters report, Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann, who issued the first rulings against Samsung is now saying that, "the defendant has moved away sufficiently from the legally protected design." A final ruling though won't come until February 9th at the earliest. So much for experts who claimed that she was firmly on Apple's side and that she "considered the Galaxy Tab 10.1 an iPad rip off."

Apple iPad design - it's been done before (images)

Apple, despite its global legal efforts to defend its iPad sales against all comers has been losing lately. Besides this preliminary decision, Motorola Mobility, for instance, also recently won a preliminary injunction that blocks European sales of all Apple's 3G-enabled devices.

Of course, we're still years away from seeing the mobile software and design patent wars seeing any real resolution. To give one example, Apple was recently awarded a patent over using applications while making a phone call on a smartphone. I don't know about you, but I seem to recall something called "multi-tasking" in computing that's been around since the 1960s that covers Apple's new intellectual property discovery, but what do I know?

All I really know is that while it looks like the idiotic tablet design war may be coming to an end, with patents like the one Apple got, we can count on software patents getting in the way of true programming, design and engineering innovation for decades still to come.

Oh, and the designs? The critical points for the court, it seems, were the thicker bezels on the sides, the addition of a chrome edge, and an all but invisible change to the speaker grills' orientation. Yeah, it sure makes a big difference doesn't it?

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