In early August, a German court issued an injunction precluding the sale and marketing of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 on account of its design which Apple claims too closely resembles the iPad. While the initial injunction was effective throughout the EU, a subsequent ruling scaled it back to apply only to Germany as it was unclear if the court had the authority to issue rulings across multiple jurisdictions.
Samsung naturally has been attempting to reverse the injunction and they ran into a roadblock today as the Duseldorf court decided to uphold the temporary sales ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Notably, Apple last week was on the positive side of a ruling preventing Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet as well.
The judge’s ruling stated in part:
The court is of the opinion that Apple’s minimalistic design isn’t the only technical solution to make a tablet computer, other designs are possible. For the informed customer there remains the predominant overall impression that the device looks” like the design Apple has protected in Europe.
Samsung naturally plans to appeal and they explained in an official statement that the ruling “severely limits consumer choice in Germany” and “restricts design innovation and progress in the industry.”
The court didn’t compare the Galaxy tablet with the actual iPad and instead focused on a design Apple filed with the European Union intellectual property agency in Alicante, Spain, Brueckner-Hofmann said.
Samsung’s tablet didn’t keep enough distance from the Apple design, the judge said. While the back of the Galaxy is different from Apple’s registered design, the important feature is the front, which is nearly identical, she said.
“The crucial issue was whether the Galaxy tablet looked like the drawings registered as a design right,” she said. “Also, our case had nothing to do with trademarks or patents for technology.”
Going forward, Florian Mueller writes that the injunction will stay in effect “until it is either overturned by the Higher Regional Court in a fast-track appeals proceeding or by the (lower) Regional Court at the end of the full-blown main proceeding, which would probably take about a year.”
“If the outcome of the full-blown main proceeding (including possible appeals of that one to one or two higher courts) is that the preliminary injunction was rightfully granted,” Mueller writes, “it becomes a permanent injunction.”
If the court finds that the injunction was erroneously granted, then Apple would be accountable for all of the lost sales Samsung would experience as result of the injunction.