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Apple fails in Samsung Galaxy tab battle in the Netherlands

Ther Hauge appeals court uphelds decision not to grant an injunction against sales of the tablet PC

Apple has failed in its bid to ban sales of Samsung’s tablet PC, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, in the Netherlands.

The Gerechthof's-Gravenhage appeals court in the Hague ruled that Samsung’s tablet PC does not feature all of the key characteristics of Apple's design and it also differs in thickness, so it subsequently has not infringed Apple’s patents. The ruling upholds one made at the end of August when a Judge in the lower Dutch court threw out Apple’s attempt to have the tablet PC banned in the Netherlands. At the time, the Judge said the device did not infringe Apple patents covering intellectual copyright and design. Furthermore, the judge ruled Samsung did not "slavishly copy" Apple's iPad.

However, the ruling does not affect the ban on shipping of the Samsung Galaxy S, SII and Ace smartphones to Europe, which was issued at the same time and came into place on October 15 last year, as the devices infringe an Apple photo management patent.

Samsung said the ruling “again demonstrates that Apple's products simply do not warrant the intellectual property protections that it believes”.

"Samsung will continue to take all appropriate measures, including legal action, to ensure continued consumer access to our innovative products."

Apple has yet to comment on the matter.

In August last year, the Regional Court of Dusseldorf granted a temporary injunction to stop the sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe after Apple claimed Samsung's tablet PC infringes Apple patents for the iPad and the iPhone. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a similar size to Apple's iPad 2 and is slightly thinner than Apple's tablet PC.

A week later the ban was lifted outside Germany as concerns were raised whether the court had the power to halt sales of devices outside Germany if the company's HQ is based in South Korea.

The Dutch ruling comes just one week before the Regional Court of Dussledorf is set to consider whether the block on sales of the device in Germany should be lifted. Furthermore, in February, the same court will rule on an Apple motion for a preliminary injunction on the sales of The Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1N, a modified version of the tablet PC which features a different bezel and re-located speaker, as Apple also believes this continues to infringe its patents.

"[T]he two companies need the courts in various jurisdictions to clarify where Apple's exclusive scope of protection ends and Samsung's freedom to compete begins," intellectual property analyst, Florian Mueller,  said in a blog.

"There's no mathematical formula based on which they could simply agree that Samsung's products are allowed to have a degree of similarity of up to (for example) 70 percent. Instead, they need guidance from judges."

The fight between the pair has seen legal action regarding patent infringement take place in ten countries across the globe.


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