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Samsung’s legal setback in Australia — where the courts have now issued a formal, if temporary, injunction on its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet after patent claims from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) — is not the only bit of bad Apple news it had yesterday. In the Netherlands, it said that it has made changes to three different models in its Galaxy smartphone line to comply with patent claims made by Apple, so that they could get around a sales ban that could would have otherwise taken effect after October 14. The news comes as the two sides gear up to meet in court in California over another injunction claim later today.
The move will require Samsung to make a software change, and that will translate as a cost to the company — although not nearly as severe as the situation in Australia, which could see Samsung missing a chance to promote its new tablet during the critical holiday buying season.
The three Android-powered devices, the Galaxy S, the SII and Ace (pictured left, from left to right), have already been the subject of legal dispute in the country. In August, the court ordered a ban on their sales, only to halt that when Samsung promised a workaround for the issue. This newest development is that workaround.
According to Reuters (NYSE: TRI), the patent at issue concerns a method of scrolling through photos, which is used in those three Samsung smartphone models. In August the Dutch court dismissed the other claims that Apple had made to both software and hardware patents and design.
The new devices could go on sale as soon as next week.
Meanwhile, a development on the case in Australia, where Samsung has now had a temporary injunction on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet as the court continues to asses Apple’s claims.
Patent blogger Florian Mueller points out that the patent in question that was exercised in the case is one registered to the late Steve Jobs (among others) and concerns “heuristic touchscreen” technology.
The generality of the patent, he speculates, could be applied to a number of other tablets, not just Samsung’s, and the fact that the Australian court has chosen to support it means that Apple may now have the legal ammunition to go after other competitors looking to launch products in Australia.
That could have implications outside of Oz, too: “Apple owns those two patents in most major jurisdictions. If other courts also conclude that the patents are valid, they will almost certainly find them infringed by Android. Invalidation is Google’s only realistic chance to fend off this threat,” he told me in an email. “It’s just that Australia is the first jurisdiction to have taken a decision on this.”
That turns out to be very timely, because today is another big day in court for the two sides in the U.S., in which Apple is seeking nationwide injunctions on four different Samsung devices — the Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 — so we could see yet more developments on this case.
For Samsung’s part, the company has been making patent infringement claims of its own on Apple based on the UMTS technology inside the device. It is seeking injunctions in multiple markets on iPhone and iPad models, including the newest iPhone 4S device, on sale this week.