EU Community design protection stops Samsung

Daniela Bartolo | Published on 01 Dec 2011

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In a war over intellectual property, Apple won its court case against Samsung, securing a long-term injunction against the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the German market. Apple argued that the product of the South Korean electronics firm Samsung, infringed its rights under the European Community Design Right Directive.

Apple registered the design features of the iPad in the European Union back in 2004. Through this registration, Apple secured protection for its registered designs across the European Union. The 2004 Community registration effectively gave Apple the rights over the appearance and features of all or part of the product registered or its ornamentation. Features include the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or the material of the product.

In its decision, the German state court ruled that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 looked too similar to the registered Apple design. It also obliged Samsung to remove this model as well as another of its models (the Galaxy Tab 7.7) from the German market, and thereby banning it from being sold in that country.

The ban means that Samsung’s German branch may not sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany or in any of the 27 member countries of the European Union, including Malta. Samsung may only sell the device through other avenues in other EU countries.

The injunction against the sale went into effect immediately. On Saturday, Samsung was obliged to remove the devices addressed in the Court’s decision from the IFA fair, which is deemed as being the world’s largest and most important trade fair for consumer electronics.

In this case, the patents on the technology used in the devices were not discussed. Patents are also granted protection across the EU, in lieu of the European Patent Convention. The Galaxy range uses Google's Android operating system.

Samsung has appealed the Court’s decision. 

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