Apple hits setbacks in blocking Galaxy Tab sales

German court lifts ban on sales throughout Europe as Apple faces accusations of visually misrepresenting its iPad rival

Apple's bid to block Samsung from selling its iPad rival hit a snag today as a German court temporarily lifted a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab across Europe. Additionally, critics have accused Apple of using an altered or outdated photo of the Galaxy Tab in an effort to make it more closely resemble the iPad.

Earlier this month, the Dusseldorf Regional Court instituted an injunction on sales of the Galaxy Tab in all of the countries in the European Union but the Netherlands. The ban has since been lifted in all the other EU countries, except for Germany; whether the injunction will be reinstituted remains to be seen as the court determines whether it indeed has the authority to limit South Korea-based Samsung's sales in countries beyond Germany's borders.

The decision marks the start of yet another chapter in the ongoing tablet wars between Apple and Samsung -- and to a lesser degree, Google -- with no end in sight. Apple has gone after Samsung for "slavishly" copying the Apple iPad in its design of the Galaxy Tab.

Apple has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that Samsung knowingly and intentionally infringed on any iPad patents, though the juries are still out in that regard. In fact, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is being accused of including a photo of the Galaxy Tab in its court filings that make it more closely resemble the iPad than it actually does. Dutch publication Webwereld first reported the discrepancies.

"On page 28 of [Apple's filing to the German court] are two images: the iPad and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Below are Apple's claim that the 'general impression' of the two products are 'virtually identical,'" according to Webwereld. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was released in Europe is actually longer and narrower than the iPad. According to Webwereld, the image of the Tab provided by Apple has an aspect ratio of 1.36, but its actual aspect ratio is 1.46; the iPad 2's aspect ratio is 1.30.

Additionally, the side-by-side image doesn't reflect that the Galaxy Tab is a widescreen device.

Whether Apple intentionally provided a misleading visual comparison between the iPad and the Galaxy Tab is not clear; also unclear is whether it will have any impact on future decisions to be rendered by the court. Florian Müller, a consultant in intellectual property cases, told Webwereld that there was likely no malicious intent on the part of Apple's lawyers: The image may have been an outdated picture of a Galaxy Tab prototype from last April, he said.

However, the real Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been available to testers and reviewers since May, and the date on Apple's subpoena was Aug. 4, so Apple's lawyers should have had time to acquire and supply an accurate image. "Even if the image they presented was only outdated rather than forged, there is a chance that things tilt in favor of Samsung," Müller said.

Arnout Groen, an attorney at Klos Morel Vos & Schaap who specializes in intellectual property rights, told Webwereld, "How this mistake affects the case, of course, depends on the discretion of the court, but it seems to be at least a swipe at the German court. "

This story, "Apple hits setbacks in blocking Galaxy Tab sales," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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