Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Banned in EU for iPad Patent Infringement
Apple scored a partial victory on Tuesday in a German court in its battle with Samsung over tablet computers, gaining a declaration that Samsung cannot sell the 7.7-inch version of its Galaxy Tab series anywhere in the European Union.
However the appeals court in Dusseldorf upheld a lower-court ruling denying to Apple a Germany-wide ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a larger device which Samsung specially remodeled for the German market to side-step the legal challenges.
US-based Apple accuses the South Korean company of copying the look and feel of its bestselling iPad. The companies are at odds worldwide over patents and legally registered designs. Apple was appealing after losing parts of its case in February in a preliminary ruling by a German state court, also in Dusseldorf, which had declined to extend a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 to all 27 EU nations. The device has never been sold in Germany.
The appellate court ruled not only that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 infringed the protected design of the iPad, but also that such a ruling against the German subsidiary of Samsung has EU-wide scope. It overruled the lower court, which had let off Samsung on a technicality of law because its branch in Germany could not be considered a local “establishment” of the parent corporation.
Judge Wilhelm Berneke said the adaptation of the larger tablet computer for Germany, the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, was sufficiently distinguishable from an iPad, thanks to its prominent company logo, wide frame and cut-outs for its loudspeakers. Samsung made those changes, reportedly with lawyers and designers working together, to meet the objections.
European law says no product is allowed to look so similar to another that it confuses customers. The rulings by both the lower and appellate courts are preliminary ones that could still change when the case goes to a full-scale hearing.