Samsung Wins Legal Relief On EU Tablet Sales

The court that banned Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 across the European Union has reversed course. Did reports of alleged evidence tampering play a role?
Samsung is likely breathing a sigh of relief today as it can once again sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in most European countries--with the exception of Germany.

Last week, the Regional Court of Dusseldorf, which sees much of the European Union's patent litigation, issue an injunction (at Apple's request) that prevented Samsung from distributing its tablet in every country in the European Union, with the exception of the Netherlands. It was seen as an early first-round victory for Apple in its ongoing patent battle with Samsung.

The court on Tuesday reversed its decision because it isn't clear if the German court has the authority to make such rulings on behalf of the entire European Union, reports the Wall Street Journal. The court reduced the injunction to just Germany, leaving the rest of Europe open to Samsung. Samsung's German operations, however, cannot distribute the Galaxy Tab outside of Germany. Samsung will have to rely on its presence in other countries to reach the rest of the EU.

"The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung. We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung's innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world. This decision by the court in Germany in no way influences other legal proceedings filed with the courts in Europe and elsewhere," said Samsung in a statement released last week.

A court date has been scheduled for August 25 for Apple and Samsung to duke it out face to face.

While the German court's decision appears to make sense on the surface, there's a small possibility that Apple damaged its own credibility with a faked photo. According to a Dutch IDG publication, the image that Apple supplied to the German court as evidence of Samsung's copycat behavior was seriously altered.

Looking at the photo (here), it appears at a glance that both devices are almost the exact shape and size. (Let's remember that design is the focal point of Apple's patent complaint.) However, in reality, the two devices aren't the same size and shape at all. The iPad is shorter and wider, while the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is longer and slimmer. The iPad has a 1.30 aspect ratio, and the Galay Tab has a 1.46 aspect ratio. In the picture, the aspect ratio between them is almost the same.

How did this photo make it into the evidence pile? Was it faked on purpose? Did someone hit a button in Photoshop by mistake? Was the wrong image of the Tab pulled by some novice employee?

We don't know the answer, but it sure doesn't look good for Apple.

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