Apple Wins EU Injunction Over Samsung's Galaxy Tab - InformationWeek

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8/10/2011
09:19 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Apple Wins EU Injunction Over Samsung's Galaxy Tab

Samsung barred from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in most of the European Union.

A German court has issued a preliminary injunction against Samsung, barring it from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in most of Europe.

The injunction is a first-round win for Apple, which sued Samsung for violating its intellectual property in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The Regional Court of Dusseldorf, which sees much of the European Union's patent litigation, issued the ruling. The injunction prevents Samsung from distributing its tablet in every country in the European Union, with the exception of the Netherlands.

The preliminary injunction includes some severe punishments if violated. If Samsung is found in violation of the injunction, it can be slapped with a $350,000 fine (per incident) and its managers can be jailed. This is, according to Business Insider, the standard sanction allowed under German litigation law for violating a preliminary injunction.

"Samsung is disappointed with the court's decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world," said Samsung in a statement released to the media.

"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."

So, what does this really mean for Samsung? Well, it means it has a legal fight it needs to win for starters. The German court didn't immediately indicate how long the preliminary injunction will last. It may last until a trial can be held, which might be months away. A trial would determine whether or not the injunction should be made permanent. If it is, Samsung won't be allowed to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union ever.

Samsung needs to win this fight. The preliminary injunction is bad enough, as it gives Apple more time to sell its iPad tablet in a market mostly free of competitors. The longer Samsung is barred from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the more of an advantage Apple will gain (and perhaps that is Apple's only intent). If Samsung is permanently blocked from selling its tablet in Europe, that would be a strong financial blow, as well as a strategic loss that could affect the decisions of other courts.

Apple alleges that Samsung has "slavishly" copied the iPhone and iPad in order to sell millions of smartphones. Apple sued Samsung in April, and Samsung countersued. Later, both companies filed complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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 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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