In the latest battle in their worldwide legal war, Apple has failed to obtain a temporary ban in Germany on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N tablet and its Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The decision by the Munich Regional Court comes one day after an appeals court in Dusseldorf ruled in favor of Apple's request to ban the previous Samsung tablet model, the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The 10.1N was released by Samsung with a few modifications to the 10.1 version, specifically to avoid a preliminary ban that had been granted for the earlier model based on patent infringements. A lower Dusseldorf court will soon hear another case filed by Apple about the 10.1N. If sales of the 10.1N are allowed to proceed, the Dusseldorf court ruling on the 10.1 may no longer be relevant.
Modifications on 10.1, Galaxy Smartphone
The ban on the 10.1 model became effective in August. The 10.1N model, which adds a metal frame around the edge of the tablet to change its appearance enough to avoid the patent issue, went on sale in late November, and the decision Wednesday resulted from Apple's attempt to get the revised model banned as well.
For the Dutch market, Samsung had made a change to software on its Galaxy smartphones, which related to how users flip through a photo gallery. The change was made to get around an injunction obtained in that country by Apple, also based on patent infringements.
Florian Mueller, a Munich-based patent expert, wrote in his Foss Patents blog Wednesday that preliminary injunctions based on patents, which both Samsung and Apple have tried to obtain on the other, have frequently failed because they ask courts to make quick judgments about patents, which can be complex.
Meanwhile, the European Commission said Tuesday that it will look into whether Samsung had broken a commitment made in 1998 to license any of its essential patents for smartphones on "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms."
In the fall, the European Union's antitrust division had said that it was investigating if the two companies' patent dispute was being used to distort competition. The EU has the authority to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global revenue for violating its rules.
Apple has sued Samsung in a number of countries, contending that Samsung has violated patents and other intellectual property rights. Apple is also suing HTC and Motorola, and Samsung has countersued Apple.
The tweaks Samsung has made in some of its models are only tiny end-runs in this war. The main target of Apple's legal strikes, according to patent observer Mueller, could be the Android platform itself -- either to slow down the march of Android devices, increase the cost to its makers, or ban the platform entirely in certain markets.
In particular, he has pointed to the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung in Australia, where the relevant Apple patents are not tablet-specific and could be applied to any Android-based touchscreen product.