Apple Inc scored a big victory in its patent infringement battle against Samsung Electronics Co after a German court temporarily barred the South Korean firm from selling its flagship Galaxy tablet in the EU, except the Netherlands.
The court order comes a week after Samsung was forced to delay the Australian launch of its latest Galaxy tablet because of a similar lawsuit.
Apple has said Samsung’s Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad. It has sued in the US, Australia and elsewhere. Samsung, whose tablets are based on Google Inc’s Android software, has countersued Apple.
Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet confirmed that a district court in the German city of Dusseldorf granted the preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It was not immediately clear why the order did not include the Netherlands.
“It’s a strategy Apple has adopted to completely prevent Samsung from putting its tablet into the market place,” said Nathan Mattock, an intellectual property lawyer at Marque Lawyers in Sydney.
Samsung’s mobile unit, which includes handsets and tablet PCs, generated 30 percent of the technology giant’s revenues in the second quarter. The bulk of the rest comes from memory chips and televisions, sectors where Samsung is the global leader.
The South Korean company said it would challenge the court decision.
“The request for an injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung,” Samsung said.
Apple’s move also raises the stakes for Google, which has accused its biggest rivals of banding together to hamper its increasingly popular Android, after it lost a bid to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel.
Without patents, companies’ devices are vulnerable to challenges for royalties or, worse, demands from rivals to withdraw the products from the market place.
Samsung has been locked in a battle with Apple over smartphone and tablet patents since April. The Galaxy gadgets are seen as among the biggest challengers to Apple’s mobile devices, which have achieved runaway success.
A US trade agency is also set to review Apple’s patent-infringement complaint against Taiwanese smartphone marker HTC Corp (宏達電).
Industry executives said Samsung could launch a new variation of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to get it on sale in Europe, as it plans to do in Australia, or settle the dispute by paying royalties to Apple.
In Australia, Samsung has agreed to show Apple an Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 one week before its launch there, a Samsung spokesman said.