The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be a rare sight in Germany for at least a couple more months, and probably a lot longer, thanks to a ruling on Friday (via FOSS Patents) by the Düsseldorf Regional Court trying the patent infringement case between Apple and the Korean electronics firm in that country. The court upheld the preliminary injunction it originally ordered against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Aug. 9, and then upheld at a post-injunction hearing on Aug. 25.
Friday’s decision, which is the final result of that last hearing, means Samsung is out of options for fast-tracking a reversal with the Düsseldorf Regional Court. Samsung could still appeal to the Higher Regional Court, which might potentially result in a fast-track proceeding that lifts the injunction in as little as a couple of months. But if it doesn’t do that, or if its appeal is rejected by that court, the injunction will apply until the full lawsuit proceeds in front of the Regional Court. That means Samsung could be looking at about a year of not being able to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and possibly more if decisions from the main proceeding agree with the preliminary injunction, making it permanent.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents also says that the way the Düsseldorf court judge worded the court’s decision might suggest the injunction could be extended to cover “any new products in Germany that infringe the successfully-enforced [sic] Community design for as long as the injunction is in force.” A Community design is an intellectual property protection for the outward appearance of a product or part of it. That means recently unveiled devices like the Galaxy Tab 7.7, which was recently removed from the IFA show floor in Berlin because of patent issues, could be affected, too, while the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab can continue to be sold.
While the injunction still only applies to Samsung in Germany, Mueller says the Community design, which is the basis of the patent suit, has far-reaching implications if upheld. If it remains in force, Apple will be able to fairly easily get similar injunctions against similar products; in theory, few tablets would be safe. Closing off the entire German market from tablet competitors would likely affect the decision of electronics companies to even make one at all, especially if Apple can win similar victories in its ongoing cases in other international markets.