Perhaps in what might be read as a wake-up call for Apple, the Cupertino, California-based gadget powerhouse has just been served a dose of reality before a Dusseldorf court in Germany. A quick recap: Apple in September secured a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the grounds of too many similarities and patent infringement.
Samsung then re-engineered its device and re-introduced it under the Galaxy Tab 10.1N moniker, but Apple pushed for an injunction of that model, too. Today at the Dusseldorf court, Presiding Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann made it known in no vague terms that Apple was pushing its luck with their request for injunction.
Consumers are well aware that there is an original and that competitors try to use similar designs, so buyers are vigilant when looking at products. We don’t think that someone buys a Samsung (005930) to make his table neighbor at the coffee house believe he owns an iPad.
And Reutersquotes Judge Brueckner-Hofmann as saying:
According to the court’s assessment, the defendant has moved away sufficiently from the legally protected design.
According to fresh data by Bitkom, a technology and telecommunications association, Germany’s tablet market is worth an estimated 2.1 million units this year. The warning from Germany arrived after Justice Annabelle Bennett lifted a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy tablet in Australia on November 30, prompting Apple to say it would appeal to the High Court. Encouraged by those developments, Samsung recently began advertising its device as “the tablet Apple tried to stop”.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1N is a re-engineered version of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 with an added metal frame around the edges. Apple’s lawyers went to great lengths to describe in court documents how Samsung should re-design its device so that it does not infringe on Apple’s patents. Here’s just a quick recap of what the lawyers for Apple wrote (believe it or not, it’s true):
• Shapes that are not rectangular with four flat sides or that do not have four rounded corners. • Front surfaces that are not completely flat or clear and that have substantial adornment. • Thick frames rather than a thin rim around the front surface. • Profiles that are not thin relative to [Apple patent D'889] or that have a cluttered appearance.
Is Samsung were to follow these guidelines, the non-infringing Galaxy Tab, cynics would say, might end up looking something like this.