Samsung can now sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe after a German court reversed its decision to ban the device, adding another twist to the Apple versus Android saga.
A Dusseldorf district court yesterday voided its earlier ruling to ban the tablet in Europe, saying, “It is not clear if the court can forbid a company based in Korea to sell its products in other countries than Germany.”
The German ban, consequently, remains in effect.
Although the court battle isn’t over, the Korean company is pleased with the decision.
“Samsung is fully committed to providing our innovative mobile devices to the market without disruption,” the company stated. “We look forward to the opportunity to reassert our intellectual property rights at the hearing scheduled on August 25.”
Samsung will have a chance to contest the remaining German ban at next Thursday’s hearing, good news for a company that only Monday filed an objection to the original ruling.
The revised ruling follows yesterday’s news that Apple may have falsified evidence in its patent infringement case against Samsung. The IDG publication Webwereld alleged Apple presented an altered photograph that made the Galaxy Tab more closely resemble the iPad. The photo presumably strengthened Apple’s argument that Samsung copied the “look and feel” of its mobile devices.
Apple is likely disappointed with the Dusseldorf court’s change of heart, as it has similar injunctions pending against Samsung in the U.S. and Australia. If the German case sets a precedent against banning the Korean company’s devices, it may affect not only Apple’s battle with Samsung, but also with other Android smartphone and tablet makers.
Apple has a lot at stake in its patent infringement cases against Android device manufacturers, as the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is waging what some call a proxy war on Google. In addition to Samsung, it is engaged in legal battles with HTC and Motorola, taking steps to ban each company’s devices and extract royalty payments.
While it can’t yet back these Android manufacturers in court owing to its paltry patent collection, Android maker Google may be able to strike at Apple following its Motorola purchase. The search giant Monday announced plans to buy the mobile manufacturer for $12.5 billion, an expenditure that should give it a hardware edge and win the company plenty of patents to help it defend Android from lawsuits.
Motorola’s 17,000 approved and 7,500 pending patents may give Android greater legal standing to contest Apple’s suits against Samsung, HTC and Motorola. The Federal Trade Commission is set to investigate the purchase amid antitrust concerns, but if the deal goes through, Apple could see more of its injunction requests fizzle.
Apple’s war against Android is far from over, however, as Google’s Motorola purchase may also work in Apple’s favor. If Samsung, HTC and others start to see the Mountain View, Calif.-based company as a rival Android manufacturer instead of a software partner, they may away from Android, diluting the strength of Android in the marketplace.
In the long term, Germany’s review of Apple’s case against Samsung highlights the increasing complexities of tech companies’ patent battles, and as they escalate, product bans and policy reversals may become par for the course.