24
Aug
apple-patent

Looks like today is going to be a bad day for Samsung, as a Dutch court has just granted Apple's request for a preliminary injunction banning the sale and importation of the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, and Ace smartphones from the European Union. This decision follows Apple's earlier victory in Germany where distribution of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was banned everywhere in the EU, save for the Netherlands.

As identified by Reuters earlier this month, the Dutch port of Rotterdam is a key point of entry for goods imported into the EU from Korea. Hence, although the ban imposed by the Dutch court is only on Samsung subsidiaries registered in the Netherlands, it could nevertheless have devastating consequences on Samsung's European distribution and logistical network.

In any event, intellectual property rights, in this case for a patent, are granted by an agency of the European Union and so this ruling from the Dutch court can be enforced throughout the EU. Furthermore, according to a patent expert, the allegations brought by Apple in its request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung in the Netherlands are far broader than those made in Germany earlier. Apple's complaint in the Dutch court encompasses an additional three technical patents which were not asserted in the German case. Importantly, these three patents are software patents and do not target the hardware of the Samsung devices. Furthermore, it appears as though the court has taken a sceptical view on two of Apple's three cited patents, and has found that Samsung's devices are only in breach of Apple patent EP 2059868 on a "portable electronic device for photo management." According to Foss Patents this injunction "relates to the current version of those devices but would not cover future releases that may be designed in ways that don't infringe this particular patent." So, it is possible for Samsung to sufficiently modify its software (specifically the Gallery app) to ensure it is no longer infringing Apple's photo manipulation patents.

At the hearing earlier this month Dutch judge Edger Brinkman noted that he would be "thinking long and hard" about whether any injunction was justified. Instead of waiting till September 15 to decide, as was expected, the judge made his ruling earlier today. Nevertheless, the injunction will commence from October 13th, by which time it is hoped that Samsung would have made the necessary modifications.

I guess it is a good thing Samsung has just announced a bunch of new phones that look and feel nothing like any fruity devices.

Update: According to Tweakers.net, Samsung's legal counsel has already announced that Samsung plans to continue selling its devices in the Netherlands by modifying its Gallery app. This should ensure that the Galaxy and Ace devices no longer infringe Apple's patent.

Thanks to @Marlamin for the update!

Source: Dutch Court's Ruling (PDF) via Foss Patents and Engadget

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • SiliconAddict

    If I had Steve "the douche" Jobs in front of me right now I'd break his god damn nose. Jail be damned. I don't care.

  • Robgt81

    Glad I already have an s2, it looks like a Jobsworth phone, only better! Hahahaha

  • Aditya

    OS News has a great article on this issue. They basically call it a meaningless victory for Apple:

    http://www.osnews.com/story/25098/Apple_Scores_Meaningless_Dutch_Court_Victory_Against_Samsung

  • Elvis

    Doesn't look meaningless to me... Europe needs to get their crap straight and stop taking bribes from apple...

    • Aditya

      Meaningless in the sense that rest of the claims were ruled invalid. And Samsung can modify the photo gallery application.

      But you are right about European rulings. This method of "ban first" approach is seriously flawed.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      You need to read the article in OS News. The judge actually seems to be very aware of the technical details of the patents involved. In fact, he threw out the swipe-to-unlock patent because he thought it's invalid and cited the Neonode N1m as a prior art. He/she also explicitly stated that Apple's design made itself less viable for design protection.

      So, basically by winning this case, Apple actually lost a lot more because 2 of the patents they claimed Samsung infringed on are now basically useless.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/abhiroop-basu/ Abhiroop Basu

        Apple didn't win a case, they merely obtained a preliminary injunction. But, yes the other two patents were essentially deemed invalid.

  • L boogie

    This could have long-term implications for Samsung but lets see how this plays out for the rest of their markets though most likely it would favor Sammy.

  • Brandon

    Oh wow. Definitely do yourselves a favor and read the OSNews article.

    Here's the excerpt that stuck with me the most.

    "In fact, the judge states in his court order that he has taken the ease with which Samsung can circumvent this patent into account in his ruling."

    He basically made this ruling to appease Apple since it was a legitimate patent (dispute about 'legitimate' patents aside), but agrees that Samsung will be able to change/remove the Gallery App on their phones so quickly that they wont actually be halted from importing any phones whatsoever.

    And since two patents were thrown out this is actually good news for Android as a platform.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/abhiroop-basu/ Abhiroop Basu

      Yup as I mentioned the ban stands, but it will only last so long as Samsung's Gallery app remains the same/similar as the one in Apple's patent. Since Samsung have already announced that they are changing the Gallery app the ban ought not to last very long.

  • Aditya

    Plus this gives Samsung more ammunition for the German case tomorrow. The German case is _only_ about the design patent which was ruled invalid today by the Dutch court.

  • Ribbys

    So just the Gallery app is in violation of a patent. Easy to fix, Google will just modify the way it scrolls.

    This is actually a win for Samsung and Android.

  • Elvis

    So it's the Samsung gallery and not the Android one? They could just release with the Aosp one until they design their own if they need to

    • Zolang

      Good question. Is the Gallery actually a Samsung app? I used to own an HTC Desire, and as far as I can remember the Gallery functioned in exactly the same way.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/abhiroop-basu/ Abhiroop Basu

        I believe it's the generic Android one. However, since the ruling is in Dutch I had to rely on secondary sources.

  • J Rush

    Samsung...keep it up!