Swiftly on the heels of The Hauge granting an injunction to Apple against Samsung Galaxy S II and Ace devices in the EU comes the news that the Korean manufacturer will modify the Gallery app on the phones to allow sale. The news was announced by Samsung’s lawyer, Bas Berghuis of Woortman, as reported by Dutch site Tweakers.
The injunction granted against the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy phones was related to the patent EP2058868, which specified a method for swiping through a gallery of photos. Samsung says that it will modify the Gallery app to remove the ‘swipe to scroll’ action, allowing the phones to be sold in the Netherlands. This should also allow them to be sold in any country across the EU that acknowledges the patent.
On its official blog, Samsung details the 10 different patents that it was being targeted for by Apple, only one of which, the ’868 patent, was used to validate the injunction. With the removal of the ‘photo flicking/bouncing’ behavior, the Gallery app, and therefore the Galaxy S II and Ace models, will no longer infringe. Since the Galaxy Tab tablet was not found to infringe, it needs no modification.
This is a quick fix that should allow Samsung to continue to sell its devices throughout the EU without the incredibly taxing and expensive task of re-routing much of it’s Galaxy product shipping. Much of the distribution for the entire EU is handled through the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The battle over these patents in the EU has yet to be fully decided however, and the full case could take up to 18 months to complete.
The reason that this injunction is so impactful to the ongoing patent wars between Apple and various Android phone makers is that it relates to Android software specifically, not hardware. Berghuis made sure to mention that the software was not Samsung’s and was provided to them by Google. This means that it could actually be used to block any Android device, in any of the 32 EU countries where the patent is in effect, that is infringing on the patent as it is a ‘stock’ Android app.
Ironically, the issue could also be corrected if the devices were simply updated to Android 3.x, which doesn’t use the same mechanism in the Gallery app. This option was mentioned by the Judge during the proceedings. If Samsung’s devices had all been running the latest version of the Android OS, this would never have happened in the first place.