And the Apple and Samsung news just continues to flow like water. In recent news the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (an appeals court) is sticking to a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and also states that the Galaxy Tab 8.9 may be in jeopardy of violating similar patents. However, unlike the original file claim, the appeals court is basing this conclusion on a violation of a German unfair competition law, Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, UWG (you’re going to have rely on Google Translate for that one folks). And the lower court’s ruling was based on a “Community Design” which is equivocation to a U.S. design patent. We initially saw the injunction issued in early August of last year where in the following September it was upheld and quickly appealed by Samsung to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents summarises todays decision by the court and offers his unique perspective:
Apple can’t replicate the German decision in other countries since German unfair competition law is pretty unique. A win based on an EU-wide design right would have been strategically more valuable to Apple. Even though Samsung formally lost its appeal because the preliminary injunction remains in force, it succeeded in defeating Apple’s design right.
A couple of months ago, Samsung launched a modified version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, named 10.1N, in Germany. In late November 2011, Apple requested a preliminary injunction against the 10.1N. For now, the 10.1N is still on sale. The Düsseldorf Regional Court held a hearing the week before Christmas and will announce a decision on February 9, 2012. The fact that Apple won today doesn’t necessarily mean that it will succeed against the 10.1N. If Samsung is allowed to continue to sell the 10.1N, the commercial relevance of today’s appellate decision is next to nil.
While today’s decision was made by an appeals court, we are still talking about fast-track proceedings triggered by a request for a preliminary injunction (and an appeal against one). All those decisions are preliminary, and what matters most is the full-blown main proceeding in which Apple’s design-related claims against a total of 15 Samsung products are at issue. It’s too early to tell what the outcome of that case will be.
In my opinion, the strategic value of those design-related lawsuits is relatively low. Preliminary injunctions based on such claims can have a temporary disruptive effect, but the world-spanning dispute between Apple and Samsung primarily hinges on the outcome of the parties’ technical patent infringement claims against each other. The first two patent infringement lawsuits Samsung brought against Apple in Germany have been dismissed. Decisions on Apple’s related claims will come down in the coming months.
I don’t know about you but I’m getting a little annoyed with these proceedings. It’s getting more and more difficult on a daily basis for manufacturers to stay out of Apple’s cross-hairs. Feel free to leave your thoughts or rants in the comments below.
If you’ve missed any of our previous coverage regarding Samsung and Apple’s battles as well as Apple vs everyone else, check out our coverage below.