Thursday, August 11, 2011

Patent court blocks sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab in EU

European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computers after Apple won a preliminary injunction against the Korean electronics giant in an acrimonious patent dispute.

Samsung on Wednesday said it would act immediately to lift the blockade, which prevents sales of its flagship tablet computer in the European Union, except the Netherlands.

Tens of thousands of Samsung Galaxy Tabs are thought to have been seized after the ruling late on Tuesday by a German patents court.

Apple has accused Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones and tablet computers of “slavishly” copying the design and functionality of its popular iPhone and iPad lines.

Apple was to apply to have the injunction extended to the Netherlands later yesterday.

A Samsung spokeswoman said yesterday morning: “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.

“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.”

Apple alleges that the Samsung tablet infringes 10 separate patents in areas such as data transmission and wireless technology.

A spokesman for Apple said: “It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.” Earlier in August the California-based company forced Samsung to delay the launch of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia after it won a preliminary injunction in that country. Apple, which briefly overtook oil group Exxon as the world’s most valuable company on Tuesday night, is also seeking to block sales of the rival tablet computer in the U.S.

Samsung has countersued Apple in its native South Korea, as well as Japan, the U.S. and Germany.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst who has followed the dispute between the two electronics giants, said that to win the EU injunction Apple must have convinced the judge in Dusseldorf that it would be likely to win the main court proceedings.

“A preliminary injunction is ordered only if the court believes you’re likely to prevail in the main proceeding, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will,” he said. “In the event you lose the main proceeding, you’re liable for damages.”

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