Big news from the little country of Holland today. The Dutch court in the Hague that has been hearing the case of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) versus Samsung for design infringements today sided with Apple and issued an EU-wide injunction on Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy smartphones. But Samsung lawyers appear to have already said the company has found a workaround that will no longer infringe the patent in question.
The news comes after allegations were raised the other week that Apple had distorted the images of the Galaxy device to advance its claims of copying. It had altered the size of a Galaxy device to be the same as that of an iPhone.
The ruling today (in Dutch; embedded below the story) is potentially much bigger than the one made in Germany regarding Samsung’s latest tablet, in that the injunction covers some of the company’s most popular smartphones: the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace devices.
It is due to take effect in six weeks’ time, or the middle of October, if Samsung does not find a way of halting it first, as it did last week with the German ruling.
Update: Looks like Samsung is responding fast. The Dutch site Tweakers.net quotes Bas Berghuis, a lawyer from the firm of Woortman representing Samsung, as saying that the company would work around the ruling, which concerns patent EP 2059868 and how it relates to photo scrolling in Samsung’s Gallery application in the current edition of Android (2.3). If that is changed — say, with a software update — there is no reason to maintain the ban, he said.
What the site also points out is that the scrolling in question appears in Android rather than Samsung’s specific use of it — meaning it might serve as the basis of further litigation by Apple.
Update 2: Samsung’s spokesperson Kim Titus sent us the following response to the litigation as well — shows confidence in how it will handle the situation:
“Today’s ruling is an affirmation that the GALAXY range of products is innovative and distinctive. With regard to the single infringement cited in the ruling, we will take all possible measures including legal action to ensure that there is no disruption in the availability of our GALAXY smartphones to Dutch consumers. This ruling is not expected to affect sales in other European markets.
“Samsung has a proud history of innovation in the mobile industry. We will continue our plans to introduce new products and technologies that meet and exceed consumer expectations. And we will defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings around the world.”
The news comes on the same day that Samsung had a little victory of its own in the UK, at the expense of Motorola (NYSE: MMI). The Advertising Standards Agency ruled that Motorola could no longer call its Atrix the “world’s most powerful smartphone” in advertisements in the UK: that honor, it said, goes to Samsung for the Galaxy S II i9100. Ironically, if the Dutch ruling holds up, Samsung won’t be able to sell the world’s fastest device on these shores.
As Florian Mueller notes, the injunction might apply differently across Europe: the injunction concerns one patent, EP 2059868, the status of which varies in individual countries. Specifically, “Apple didn’t successfully pursue and complete a local registration” in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Spain. It did, however, in Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the Netherlands
He also points out that while Samsung has subsidiaries registered in different countries (and therefore might argue that this ruling would only apply in the Netherlands, as it did the other week with the German ruling), it actually routes its smartphone distribution logistics through the Netherlands, so getting around the injunction might mean reorganizing that.
On a positive note, the judge appeared to be less likely to endorse two other patents as they related to hardware design.
Coincidentally, today Samsung also unveiled four new devices and a new, five-tier naming scheme for its Galaxy range of smartphones, spanning from the entry-level “Y” range up through to its flagship “S” range.