Apple Patent Battle Falters as Dutch Court Denies Samsung Tablet Ban

Apple Patent Battle Falters as Dutch Court Denies Samsung Tablet Ban

A Dutch court cleared the Samsung Galaxy Tab for sale in the Netherlands, dismissing Apple’s request for a ban and casting doubt on the iPad maker’s chances at a wider European legal victory.

Apple sued Samsung in the Hague on the grounds the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on its patented designs, appealing an earlier decision by a lower court that refused the injunction. Today’s ruling upholds the lower court’s decision, denying Apple’s request as legal battles between the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant and the South Korean handset maker drag on.

The Dutch courts ruled Samsung’s tablet differs significantly enough from the iPad that the two can share the market and compete, weakening Apple’s argument that Samsung’s devices, especially the Galaxy line, “slavishly” copy its designs.

Legal decisions concerning the two companies have shifted back and forth since Apple first sued Samsung last April, with every legal battle upping the ante for the two companies as they seek to ban each other’s devices and win out over intellectual property rights.

However, recent legal decisions do not favor Apple. The California company suffered a legal setback when Australian courts lifted a sales ban against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Samsung will gain another European victory later this month if the German courts overturn an initial ban against the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which would further dim Apple’s hopes for an European victory over Android.

European regulators are apparently losing patience with the ongoing legal drama as well, and are investigating patent battles between Apple and Samsung due to concerns the rivals are using intellectual property claims to stifle open competition. If regulators rule the patents the rivals use are standard across the technology industry, they will likely force the companies to drop most pending cases.

Apple isn’t coming up with many concrete signs of victory in its European or Australian battles, and the device maker awaits a decision regarding a sales injunction against Samsung in U.S. federal court, which could turn the tide Apple’s favor.

Google’s planned purchase of Motorola further pressures Apple to win in court. If Google acquires Motorola, it will add a tremendous number of patents to its library, which in turn could be used by all Android manufacturers.

Faced with a potentially stronger rival in the wake of a Google-Motorola merger, Apple continues to fight in court, seeking to gain an advantage by banning sales of rival devices on the grounds they copy its own designs.

In the meantime, it racks up millions of dollars in fees in its courtroom fight against Android as the patent fight rages on.

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