It’s hard to keep up with all of the legal entanglements Samsung and Apple are currently embroiled in. The two companies have legal proceedings in-play across 4 continents and in over 10 countries.
One of the busiest jurisdictions with respect to Apple and Samsung’s ongoing legal dispute is Germany where Apple achieved some success in the past to the extent it secured a ban on the original Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet for infringing upon Apple owned design patents. And just last week, Apple filed two new lawsuits in Germany targeting 10 Samsung smartphones and 5 Samsung tablets.
So yeah, keeping track of what’s going on can be taxing.
But a recent ruling coming out of the Mannheim Regional Court in Germany helps sort out some of the messiness, albeit only ever so slightly.
Last week, Judge Andreas Voss rejected one of the essential 3G patents Samsung was asserting against Apple.
Florian Mueller writes:
The pronouncement did not include the reasoning. While a number of legal grounds are theoretically possible, doubts about the validity of the asserted patent would have resulted in a stay, not a rejection, due to Germany’s bifurcated system under which validity issues are addressed in different fora than infringement lawsuits. There are two reasonably likely possibilities: either Apple’s products weren’t deemed to infringe on the patent in a technical sense or the court believes Samsung’s rights are exhausted and Apple has, by extension, a license. If the reason for the rejection was technical non-infringement, Samsung’s other assertions of 3G/UMTS patents in Germany could still succeed. However, if the reason was patent exhaustion, all but one of the four remaining Samsung lawsuits in Germany (one over two patents unrelated to 3G, including a smiley input patent) would likely be thrown out as well. While a finding of patent exhaustion can depend on technical details that vary from patent to patent, and from product to product, I haven’t seen any indication that the related functionality is implemented by Apple itself as opposed to the baseband chips Apple incorporates into its products.