Samsung’s Having a Bad Legal Week

Yes, I’m hearing you guys – time to tone down a bit on the patent news. Hence, a summary here of recent developments concerning the various legal cases between Samsung and Apple. Today in The Netherlands, the judge ruled [Dutch] that Samsung will not be able to block the iPhone/iPad from the Dutch market. In the meantime, the Australian courts upheld the preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, while the American courts ruled that while the Tab indeed infringes upon Apple’s design patents, Apple has not yet convinced the judge that that actually matters. Tying this all together with earlier rulings we already covered – it seems like judges across the world are really, really willy-nilly. Update: DailyTech has some detailed visual comparisons between Samsung’s and Apple’s devices, as well with the various design patents. Huh. You don’t say.

First, Australia. In Australia, the judge has decided to uphold the preliminary injunction banning the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from being sold on the Australian market. The case isn’t done yet though – in fact, it hasn’t even started yet. It will now move towards a full hearing, which won’t take place until next year. In other words – Apple has won, since the Tab will now miss the holiday season.

The Australian case is interesting because it showed just how afraid Apple is of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Cupertino company claimed that were the Tab allowed to be sold, it would quickly reduce the sales of the iPad 2. So, as you can imagine, Apple is very content with this win down-under.

“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,” Apple said in a statement.

Samsung, for its part, is not particularly content, of course. They just missed the holiday season in Australia, and while those 22 million Australians aren’t exactly a prime market (compared to Europe, Asia, and the US, anyway), it still sets a bad precedent for Samsung in potential future cases.

“Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple’s claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers,” Samsung said, “This is a part of our ongoing legal proceeding against Apple’s claim. Samsung is also confident it can prove Apple’s violation of Samsung’s wireless technology patents through a cross-claim filed on September 16, 2011 with the Federal Court of Australia, New South Wales.”

Moving on to the United States, a judge there has ruled that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 indeed infringes upon Apple’s design patents, but that Apple has a problem proving the validity of these design patents. Claims regarding software patents were brushed off the table. Interestingly enough, both Verizon and Sprint have sided with Samsung in this case, claiming an injunction against Samsung would harm the two wireless companies’ bottom lines and consumer choice.

Lastly, we have The Netherlands, my own little wet swamp. Today, the judge ruled whether or not the case in which Samsung asked for a preliminary injunction against the iPhone and iPad was allowed to go forward. This case covered several FRAND 3G hardware patents owned by Samsung.

The Dutch judge ruled that the case was not allowed to go forward. The judge threw nearly all of Apple’s complaints off the table, save for one: Samsung’s FRAND offer was not, in fact, FRAND. Samsung demanded licensing costs which were out of line with the industry standard, according to the judge, and as such, she pretty much ordered the two companies to return to the negotiating table. If, during these negotiations, Apple rejects a true FRAND licensing offer, Samsung can ask for another preliminary injunction.

Interestingly enough, the Dutch judge specifically ruled in the context of the grander legal struggle between the two companies currently playing out in the world. Apple argued that Samsung waited too long with coming out of the woodwork with these 3G patents, to which Samsung replied that Apple’s very own patent lawsuits around the world forced Samsung to bring these patents into play after all. The judge sided with Samsung on this one.

I think this legal battle between Samsung and Apple is the best thing that could have ever happened. I have never seen so much mainstream media attention for these silly patents and design nonsense, and at least here in The Netherlands, the overall tone seems to be one of amusement. Hopefully, this will raise some awareness of just how idiotic intellectual property rights have become.


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