EU probes Samsung, Germany blocks its tablets

Jan 31, 2012 By GABRIELE STEINHAUSER and DAVID RISING , Associated Press
In this Aug. 25, 2011 file photo a lawyer holds an Apple iPad and a Samsung Tablet-PC at a court in Duesseldorf, Germany. The Duesseldorf state court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, that neither the South Korean company's Galaxy Tab 10.1 nor the Galaxy Tab 8.9 could be sold in Germany because they were in violation of unfair competition laws. A German appeals court has upheld a decision prohibiting Samsung Electronics Co. from selling two of its tablet computers in Germany, agreeing with Apple Inc. that they too closely resemble the iPad2. (AP Photo/dapd, Sascha Schuermann, file)

Samsung took a hit in its battle against arch-rival Apple on Tuesday, when the European Union announced it will investigate whether it is illegally trying to hinder competitors and Germany blocked sales of some of its tablets.

Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. are engaged in a strategic war over patents in many countries across the world as they try to draw away from each other.

The EU's antitrust thinks the South Korean company may be overstepping the bounds, however, and launched a formal investigation of whether Samsung is strategically using key patents on technology to hinder competitors - including Apple.

In Germany, an ruled in favor of Apple in a separate case, saying Samsung could not sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 nor the Galaxy Tab 8.9 in the country because they too closely resembled the iPad2, in violation of unfair competition laws.

"Samsung wrongly used the enormous reputation and prestige of the ," Duesseldorf state court Presiding Judge Wilhelm Berneke wrote in his ruling.

But the court said Samsung's successor tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, was not affected by the ruling, and Samsung said while the decision was disappointing, it was largely irrelevant.

"Today's ruling is of little factual relevance due to the new model Galaxy Tab 10.1 N, and ... the decision therefore is of no indicative value with respect to other involving the Galaxy Tab 10.1 N," Samsung said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

"Samsung will continue to take all appropriate measures, including legal action, to ensure continued consumer access to our innovative products."

In Brussels, the said it suspects Samsung of not giving other companies fair access to patents it holds on standardized 3G technology for - despite committing to do so in 1998.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said the probe also affects tablets such as Apple's newest iPad, which uses standardized wireless .

The Commission said that Samsung last year sought legal injunctions against other device makers in several EU states, alleging patent infringement. A spokesman said it launched the probe after its own investigation of the market, rather than reacting to complaints from Samsung's competitors.

The investigation will now focus on whether in doing so Samsung failed to honor its commitment from 1998 to "license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms."

Nam Ki-yung, a spokesman at in South Korea, said his company was looking at details of the news on the probe but had no immediate comments.

The probe and victory in the German court for Apple come after the California company has met with several setbacks recently in its fight with Samsung.

Most recently, a Dutch court ruled Jan. 24 that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet was not a copy of Apple's iPad, and that it could continue to be sold in the Netherlands. That came on the heels of a December decision in Sydney, where the High Court dismissed Apple's appeal and said Samsung was free to sell its Galaxy tablet computers in Australia.

The battle began in April, when Cupertino, California-based Apple sued Samsung in the United States, alleging the product design, user interface and packaging of Samsung's Galaxy devices "slavishly copy" the iPhone and iPad.

Samsung responded by filing its own lawsuits that accused Apple of patent infringement of its wireless telecommunications technology.

The fight has spread to about 10 countries, and has highlighted the perception that Samsung - the global No. 1 in TVs and No. 2 in smartphones by sales - is more of an imitator of clever technologies than an innovator in its own right.

Apple, by contrast, is generally viewed by consumers as highly original and inventive.

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User comments : 6

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4 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2012
Germany sold out to USA, booo.
5 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2012
"The fight has spread to about 10 countries, and has highlighted the perception that Samsung - the global No. 1 in TVs and No. 2 in smartphones by sales - is more of an imitator of clever technologies than an innovator in its own right."

really? there's that perception? this article smells of bias and this battle over design infringement is just getting ridiculous, please stop embarrassing yourselves.
4 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2012
Many hardware parts from the iPhone come from samsung...
What do you mean samsung is not an innovator? What about SAMOLED, probably the best screen you could have for your phone.
5 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
" alleging the product design, user interface and packaging"
Apple took this approach with Atari (the original) in the 1980's with its 'look and feel' case, and lost. They will lose again.

(Note: Atari failed back in the 80's due to Tramiel's refusal to spend money on advertising, they did win the case against Apple though)
5 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
The bigger they become, the nastier they get. Maybe Apple should realize that 1 plus 1 = 2 even in Korea. Korean people are not a sub-species of the human species. They can innovate as much as Apple and can even come up with better products.
5 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2012
Apple is creating the same hate against themselves as Microsoft once did. And they are doing it without having a death-grip on the market first. This will erode even their loyal followers through not appearing "hip", and their peers pressuring them to move away from their products.
Not the best way to keep market share built up on looking cool.

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