Samsung Electronics has filed an appeal against a court ruling banning the sale of its Galaxy tablet computers in Germany. In the latest news of the legal battle between the smartphone giants, Samsung has also accused Apple Inc. of patent infringement in Australia.
Earlier this month, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court issued the ruling for a temporary ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 within Germany. Presiding Judge Johanna Bruecker-Hoffmann, said that Samsung's tablet, with its "minimalist, modern form," bore a "clear impression of similarity" with the iPad 2.
The injunction regarded the use of design elements that appear similar to the iPad. The Court believed that this was copying, but it may also be that Samsung designers could not find an alternative to the iPad design. The Court acknowledged that there are other form factors for tablets on the market that do not infringe Apple's community design, hence Samsung did have alternatives available.
Samsung has also been trying to dismiss Apple's patent litigation against Samsung's Galaxy phones and tablets in Australia.
“The skirmish over the injunction is important not just for Apple and Samsung, but also for other tablet manufacturers, as well as consumers, because it means the product stays off the market in Germany,” said Colin Fowler, an associate at a specialist IP law firm. The consequence of Apple winning the battle means that Samsung will have to redesign or abandon the affected products, and future designs for tablets from all manufacturers would have to steer clear of Apple’s design rights.
Also in Germany, Apple won an injunction against the Galaxy Tab 7.7. , which has a smaller screen that the Tab 10.1. With the ruling, Samsung was forced to pull the product out of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin earlier this month.
"We are disappointed with this ruling and believe it severely limits consumer choice in Germany," was Samsung's reply to the Court's ruling, and thus the reason for the recent counter-appeal.
Samsung recently reported that it had filed a complaint in France against Apple in July. The first hearing is expected in December.
"The complaint focuses on three technology patents, and not on the design of the tablets," which is also the basis of the complaint filed in Germany that Apple won last week, a Samsung spokeswoman said.
This is a see-saw legal battle, which has already had wide effect on acquiring IP rights – Google this week acquired a further 1,023 patents from IBM, which will surely be used as a shield against attacks from Apple et al, but will most likely affect consumer choice and competition on the market.