For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Community Designs form Latest Battleground in Apple/Samsung Dispute

Apple has been having a rather good time of it over the past few weeks. First came its success in shutting down the five fake Apple stores (Merpel asks: shouldn’t that be ‘stoers’?) in Kunming, China (noted by the IPKat here, and here). Then came the foiling of the somewhat medieval zipwire shenanigans of a group of smugglers attempting to get iPads into Hong Kong on the cheap. As Engadget reports, “The unsanctioned exporters fired a slingshot from a high-rise in Shenzen, dragging a zip line down to a small house just across the Sha Tau Kok river in Hong Kong.” Their cunning plan was rumbled, however, when someone spotted the wire and called the authorities. Having left a trail that even Hong Kong Phooey (right) would have struggled to miss, the fledgling smugglers were soon apprehended. Police simply followed the wire and discovered $46,000 of Apple products and four red-handed culprits.

However, yesterday Foss Patents brought news (via German news agency dpa) that Apple has just secured another win – and this time against a far bigger fish. Readers will be aware of the ongoing spat between Apple and Samsung over the alleged copying of the iProducts' styling in various of Samsung's recent mobile inventory items. The case in question concerns the styling of the iPad and its alleged infringement by some of Samsung's tablet offerings.

Foss Patents has recently explained that Apple was seeking that “Samsung be enjoined from “using, in particular, manufacturing, offering (including advertising), introducing into the market, importing, exporting and/or possessing for the said purposes”” the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (the one on the right below - the iPad is on the left) on the basis that it infringes the Apple’s iPad-related Community Design (No. 000181607-0001 (one of the pictures from which is reproduced above) with a priority date of 17/03/2004).

The case came before the Landgericht (district court) of Düsseldorf earlier in the week, which granted the preliminary injunction. This barred, with immediate effect, all distribution of the product in the European Union (except for the Netherlands, where a separate action is underway). Samsung is expected to appeal the decision. The Kats will bring you more news as they get it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reading the reams of uniformed twaddle about this, I would be very grateful if any of your readers (or you dear Kats) could give a sensible analysis of this and what positions Apple or Samsung have with this.

It's also striking how many commentators talk about software patents...

John H said...

Obviously we'll have to see how this one pans out, but a couple of thoughts:

1. I would have thought the different aspect ratio of the screens, at the very least, would affect the "overall impression it produces on the informed user".

2. If shown the Apple community design registration, I would not have guessed that it was depicting an iPad 2 as opposed to any other tablet. Presumably Samsung will make a challenge on "individual character" grounds a key part of their defence.

3. I wonder if Apple's claim has an element of "professional foul" to it. After all, they can easily afford to pay any damages that might be awarded should Samsung succeed in overturning the injunction later - by which time the Galaxy Tab's market prospects will have been seriously damaged while the iPad continues to thrive.

4. This does highlight what a common European patent would probably result in: forum shopping to find a rightsholder-friendly court that will then grant an EU-wide injunction. The FOSS Patents blog describes the Dusseldorf court as the German equivalent to the Eastern District of Texas in this regard...

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