Samsung claims victory over Apple in Dutch tablet design case

The Netherlands Supreme Court has ruled that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 does not infringe on Apple's iPad designs.
Written by Michiel van Blommestein, Contributor on
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is different enough to the iPad, a Dutch court has decided. Image: Samsung

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 does not infringe on industrial design rights held by Apple, the Supreme Court in the Netherlands ruled on Friday.

The ruling confirms a 2011 verdict by the court in The Hague, another verdict handed down by the Dutch appeals court earlier this year and the Supreme Court attorney general's opinion given in February.

Apple claimed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on its European community design from 2004, which defines a rectangular device with rounded corners and contains a rudimentary drawing of an early iPad. The company demanded a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab in the Netherlands and, consequently, in the whole of the European Union.

It's the latest in a long line of legal tussles between Samsung and Apple in the Netherlands. Last year, Apple won a case over the 'bounce back' feature used for scrolling between pictures in the Gallery app on older smartphones. In 2011, it won a similar case with newer Samsung models (including the Galaxy S2, the company's flagship device at the time). Samsung subsequently circumvented the sales ban with a software update.

At the time, the pair were also engaged in a number of patent battles in several countries around the globe. Around the time of the original case in The Netherlands, Apple also won a legal battle in Germany which led to a sales ban of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in that country. Samsung responded by shipping a modified version (the Galaxy Tab 10.1N) which in the end was accepted for sale, despite protests by Apple.

It now has to accept defeat in the Netherlands. While the 2011 Hague verdict agreed that Apple's community design is valid, its scope is very limited because at the time of registration other displays showed the same characteristics, including concept designs from Samsung.

Apple appealed, saying the verdict contradicted itself. However, in January the appeals court upheld the verdict, judging that informed users are well aware of the differences between the two devices. The Supreme Court has now followed suit.

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