Apple is famous for crafting beautifully designed products, but it is a little condescending to start giving design advice to its competitors. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Apple has done in a legal brief filed with their earlier request for a ban on Samsung's devices in the United States (a request which was denied by a district judge a few days ago). The legal brief from Apple describes both what their U.S. design patents cover and what the patents do not cover. The latter is especially interesting as they are essentially guidelines on what Samsung can do to avoid being sued in the future.
The patent wars between Samsung and Apple are stretching everyone pretty thin, lawyers and judges from 10 countries are contending with over 20 cases, manufacturers are having to make last minute adjustments to devices, and most importantly reporters, including yours truly, are having a hard time keeping up with it all.
Bringing the discussion stateside, on Friday a U.S. District Judge in California denied Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung. Apple had earlier sued Samsung in the U.S. claiming that the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets "slavishly" copied the iPhone and the iPad. However, the Judge disagreed and noted that "it is not clear that an injunction on Samsung's accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed".
Prospects of purchasing a Galaxy Tab 10.1 are looking a bit better for our Australian friends, after a court today overturned the injunction leveraged against Samsung's super-thin tablet by Apple. While this is great news, the Australian court stated that it would keep the injunction in place until Friday, and Apple has already indicated an impending appeal.
Leading to the injunction's overturning, the Australian court ruled that there was not enough evidence that Samsung had infringed Apple's touchscreen patent. Samsung has already released a statement on the subject, indicating that a release date for the 10.1 in Australia is forthcoming, further stating "We believe the ruling clearly affirms that Apple's legal claims lack merit." Right now, things are looking pretty good for Samsung in Australia, but we'll be sure to report any new developments as they happen.
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.
A court in Karlsruhe issued an injunction against HTC because of these patents last week.
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.
Despite the fact that Samsung created the new design while closely collaborating with their German lawyers, Apple seems to think the redesign didn't go quite far enough. The Cupertino giant has filed a motion for preliminary injunction on the 10.1N, and the Düsseldorf Regional Court has planned a hearing for December 22, 2011.
Trevor Eckhart, a developer involved in uncovering a huge security vulnerability that affected several HTC devices, was recently threatened by Carrier IQ (CIQ), a company involved in gathering various forms of user data and sending it to carriers or manufacturers for analysis. For those who haven't been following the story, here's what happened:
Trevor Eckhart found several training manuals on CIQ's website. These were publicly available. Trevor shared them with the community, explaining just how far-reaching CIQ's data collection practices are. At this point, CIQ became aware of the fact that sensitive information had been exposed, and pulled the files from their website.
If you don't know who Trevor Eckhart is, you might remember a little piece we published earlier this year about a massive HTC data vulnerability caused by the company's data-logging operations. Trevor was the guy who found that vulnerability and did almost all of the legwork in investigating it. Since then, Trevor has been hard at work looking at more mobile data logging applications used by various manufacturers, including one written by a company called Carrier IQ.
CIQ, as it's more commonly known, harvests various user data from its host device and sends it back to carriers or manufacturers for analysis and record-keeping purposes.
Things are getting a bit more interesting in the ongoing fight between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble. You'll remember that earlier this year, Microsoft began suing B&N for refusing to fork over Android-related fees from the Nook Color. Barnes & Noble has responded, alleging in its motion that Microsoft "is using its licensing practices to improperly broaden the scope of its patents in an attempt to dominate mobile operating systems such as Android that threaten Microsoft's monopoly in personal computer ("PC") operating systems." It may sound odd at first that Microsoft would be at Android's throat over PC operating systems, but indeed, it was recently discovered that Microsoft attempted to compel Google to provide its Android strategy, including information about Android's current abilities as a PC platform.
A court in Mannheim, Germany today held a preliminary hearing in a patent dispute between Motorola Mobility and Apple Sales International (a European Apple distribution subsidiary), and it seems like Apple's on the ropes.
While the hearing didn't discuss the particular merits of Motorola's patent infringement claim against Apple, the presiding judge issued substantial blows to Apple's defense by indicating that he believed the patent-in-suit was ripe for trial. The judge also seemed to agree with Motorola's reading of that patent (also known as "construction claims") in important ways that would allow it a broader scope of applicability at trial.
The judge did not seem interested in many of Apple's defenses, such as Motorola's claim lacking specificity, the patent in question being invalid, or that the patent should be construed more narrowly.
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. And below that is an iPad 2. If you look at the bezel design, the Tab 10.1 originale has a bezel more similar to the iPad 2 - a very minimal metal frame along the edges.