If you haven't heard, Germany has pretty much become the hotspot for smartphone and tablet patent litigation. Most recently, HTC has been hitting headlines in its ongoing battle against IPCom, an intellectual property firm. IPCom claims that HTC's smartphones violate a number of its patents in the realm of 3G GSM technology. HTC says that the last time it made a phone which might have violated those patents was in 2009, and that it has since developed a workaround which does not infringe on IPCom's patents.
After winning multiple preliminary injunctions against Samsung's Galaxy Tab family (including the 10.1, 8.9, and 7.7) in Germany in the recent past, Apple is looking to add one more device to the list: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N.
For those who don't know, the Galaxy Tab 10.1N is exactly the same as the original 10.1, except that it has a new form factor, adding a silver bezel and repositioning the tab's speaker grills.
Now, this all based on one German online retailer (where imports of the Tab 10.1 were banned), but it's very interesting nonetheless. It appears that a new version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been launched in Germany, called the Tab 10.1N. The difference? So far, all we see is a re-designed bezel and the fact that it's now shipping with Android 3.2. Take a look at this comparison shot from Mobiflip:
The Tab 10.1N is above, and the old Tab 10.1 is below.
OK, before I even get into this post, let me be clear: this is based on old news. However, it was news that no one seemed to pick up at the time, and when we discovered it, we thought it was quite interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Lodsys, let's start with a history lesson. They're better known as the shell corporation offspring of a company called Intellectual Ventures LLC, a patent clearinghouse owned by a group of, shall we say, enterprising individuals.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced its latest Android licensing deal with Taiwanese manufacturer Compal, marking the company's tenth such agreement to date. While such a small manufacturer in terms of market share makes little overall difference in Microsoft's profits derived from Android, its deals with HTC and Samsung, combined with various smaller manufacturers like Compal, means it now receives royalties from over half of all Android smartphones sold in the US (the figure may be even larger on a global scale).
Uh-oh. Sounds like Samsung's lawyers heard about Samsung Mobile President Shin Jong-kyun's little statement that the Galaxy Nexus was designed such that no "known" Apple patents were used or infringed on by the phone. This was probably, to be frank, a very stupid thing to say. Aside from basically challenging Apple to take a closer look at the Galaxy Nexus, there's also the fact that, if Jong-kyun's statement was actually correct and Samsung did design the Galaxy Nexus to avoid Apple patents, that Apple's lawyers would love to quote it at various patent infringement trials around the world.
This could be introduced to a jury as evidence that Samsung had reason to believe, at the point the Galaxy Nexus was designed, that their other products could be infringing on Apple patents.
When Verizon and T-Mobile filed amicus curiae briefs in favor of Samsung in the company's ongoing patent litigation against Apple in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California, we cheered inside a little. It's always nice to see Android and its handset partners have friends in high places.
However, the question of how the court would respond to these briefs remained - as the decision is an entirely discretionary one.
Well, this is certainly an interesting turn of events. In Samsung and Apple's ongoing attempts to sue the pants off one another in every court conceivable, an unlikely player has stepped into the arena as a voice of reason (sort of).
Verizon Wireless, the US's largest wireless carrier, has requested permission to file a brief in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California on the part of Samsung in one of the many lawsuits it is involved in with Apple.
This morning, as part of the ongoing Samsung v Apple patent litigation, the German court responsible for imposing a ban on Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in the EU has backpedaled, temporarily lifting the injunction enjoining Samsung from distributing its flagship tablet in the European Union.
Why? It appears the German court decided that it may lack the authority to enjoin Samsung's Korean parent corporation under the EU's regulations regarding international jurisdiction.
Lodsys, the king troll of all patent trolls, has been attacking developers of both Android and iOS apps for a few months now (yeah, even Rovio) with their claims of owning a patent to the free->paid upgrade process using in-app purchases.