A German court has temporarily barred Samsung Electronics from selling its flagship Galaxy tablet in most of the European Union in a significant victory for market leader Apple Inc.
In a global intellectual property battle, Apple has said the Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad, and it has sued the Korean firm in the United States, Australia and elsewhere.
Samsung, whose tablets are based on Google Inc’s Android software, has countersued Apple.
The German court order comes a week after Samsung was forced to delay the Australian launch of its latest tablet because of a separate lawsuit alleging Samsung infringed a number of Apple’s patents.
Samsung products already distributed prior to the injunction on August 9 may still be sold and the company said it does not expect an immediate impact on sales.
UK retailer Dixon’s said the company has so far received no legal instructions to remove the Galaxy tablet from stores, while Telefonica Germany can sell devices it still has in stores.
“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” said Apple’s London-based spokesman Adam Howorth. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”
Intellectual property rights are granted by an agency of the European Union and can therefore be enforced on an EU-wide basis, patent-expert Florian Mueller said.
Apple did well to choose the Duesseldorf based court because it is known to be well disposed toward rights holders, said Jorma Hein, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights.
Separate hearings are scheduled in The Hague in the Netherlands for Wednesday and Thursday. Experts said it was likely that Apple was seeking an import stop in the Netherlands because it is home to Rotterdam, Europe’s biggest port.
Samsung’s mobile unit, which includes handsets and tablet PCs, generated 30 percent of the technology giant’s revenue in the second quarter.