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.