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9/9/2011
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Apple Wins Another Round Against Samsung In Germany

A court has upheld a preliminary injunction preventing Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab device in Germany.

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Chalk up another victory for Apple in its continuing battle against competitor Samsung. At a hearing Friday, the Regional Court of Dusseldorf, which sees much of the European Union's patent litigation, upheld its preliminary injunction banning Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany.

The ban is not yet permanent, however. The court believes that there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation of Apple's claims against Samsung. The court has not rendered a final verdict on Apple's claims, and won't for some time.

The injunction includes some severe punishments if violated. If Samsung is found in violation, it can be slapped with a $350,000 fine and its managers can be jailed.

Apple has also won a preliminary victory against Samsung in the Netherlands. A court in there agreed with Apple's claim that a handful of Samsung smartphones violate Apple's patents. In particular, the handsets violate patents with respect to how smartphones scroll and browse through a photo gallery.

The handsets in question include the Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S II, and the Samsung Ace. The injunction preventing their import goes into effect October 13 in the countries of Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The injunction would include nearly two dozen more countries if Apple had more aggressively applied for registration of the patent. As it stands, the injunction applies to just six countries.

Samsung will still be allowed to import its Galaxy Tab 10.1 device into these countries.

But Apple has successfully forced Samsung to delay the introduction of the Galaxy Tab in Australia at least until the end of September. Following a hearing in the Federal Court of Australia, Samsung agreed to delay the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 pending the court's decision the week of September 26.

Samsung said at the time, however, that "it should be noted that the court has not issued an injunction against the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the court did not make any ruling." In other words, Samsung is voluntarily holding back in this case due to the pending litigation. Samsung is also preparing to file its own claims against Apple in Australia.

So, what do all these court cases really mean for Samsung? Well, a headache, for starters, and probable lost sales for however long the devices in question are blocked. The longer Samsung is barred from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and its Galaxy S smartphones, the more of an advantage Apple will gain (and perhaps that is Apple's only intent). Right now, Samsung has lost some preliminary rulings, but the final verdicts have yet to be decided. That gives Samsung plenty of time to turn things around--in Europe and Australia, at least.

Apple sued Samsung in the United States in April, and Samsung countersued. Later, both companies filed complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

On August 2, the ITC agreed to hear Apple's patent-related complaints against Samsung in the United States. Apple isn't only targeting the Galaxy Tab, of course. It has named a dozen or so Samsung smartphones, all of which run Google's Android operating system. Apple is hoping the ITC issues an injunction similar to the one issued by the German court: it seeks to ban Samsung from importing the offending devices into the United States.

While it appears that Apple has the upper hand at the moment, this legal battle is far from over.

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