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Ban is rejected, judges say no one is mistaking Samsung's tablets for Apple ones

U.S. Design Patent D504,889 and its corresponding patents in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere have stirred up a lively debate about patent law in relation to competition.  The Apple, Inc. (AAPL) design patent contains precious little text, so it's left to Apple's lawyers to interpret it, and is up to international courts to decide how broad the protected design space is.

I. Does D'889 Grant Apple a Monopoly?

Apple claims D'889 is essentially a blank check to a tablet monopoly.  While the pictured device in the 2004-era patent:

Apple D'889 patent

...has no buttons and is substantially different from the iPad in bezel size and form factor, Apple says none of that matters.  It says it has "invented" the minimalist tablet  -- in Apple's words a tablet with "slightly rounded corners,'" "a flat transparent surface without any ornamentation," and "a thin profile" -- and that competitors should not be allowed to produce rival designs of any size.  The only unspoken exception is Windows 8 tablets, as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) owns a favorable cross-licensing deal with Apple.

In the U.S., Apple's claims of monopoly ownership were backed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit who decided in a May 14th ruling [PDF] that Apple's design patent was valid and that Samsung infringed on it. The ruling led to Judge Lucy Koh in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco) to institute a nationwide sales ban on Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy Tab 10.1, despite her personal opinion that the patent was invalid.

Overseas in Britain, Apple's broad claims met a far different fate.  Judge Colin Birss stroked Apple's ego, while offering it a stinging court defeat.

II. UK Judge Rejects Design Infringement Claims

He writes, "[The Galaxy Tab line] do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design... They are not as cool."

Despite the kind words, the Judge says that 50+ examples of prior art both in the industry and in fictional works show that Apple's 2004 idea was hardly "original".  The Judge considered it ludicrous that Samsung be expected to differentiate the front of its device, given that extra face buttons hinder the user interface and that the hardware form factor is almost entirely constrained by the multi-touch display, an industry standard.

Judge Birss says where tablets need to differentiate themselves is in the back face and profile.  He found that "unusual details" on the back of the Samsung devices, as well as a thinner profile, made them trivially distinguishable from the iPad.

Galaxy Tab v. iPad
The Galaxy Tab (left) is substantially different from the iPad (right) according to a UK Judge.  
[Image Source: Gadgets and Gizmos]

In short, he argued that Apple's lawyers were completely wrong in their argument that customers would confuse the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for iPads.

His ruling means that there will be no bans and no damages on a design basis.  A London court previously ruled that three of Apple's most-asserted EU technology patents were invalid on the grounds of obviousness and prior art, while a fourth was too narrow to sue Samsung and others.

Apple has 21 days to appeal the ruling to higher courts in the UK.  Otherwise it risks a complete loss in its UK efforts to kill Android in court.  Such a loss could spell a permanent end to the company's slew of suits in the European Union.

Amid the losses in the EU, Apple's bet at banning the competition may be in the U.S. However, it faces some tough tests, such as Judge Richard A. Posner who argues that the U.S. patent system is broken and that Apple is using the broken system to its advantage as a weapon to kill free market competition.

Source: Bloomberg

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RE: separated at birth
By Pirks on 7/9/2012 6:59:09 PM , Rating: 3
Well... BB 10 phone to be released Q1 2013 is also going to have a hardware keyboard, at least one of them. The other with full touch screen is also not going to look an iPhone clone, you just have to use QNX on Playbook to understand why.

RE: separated at birth
By retrospooty on 7/9/2012 7:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
Pot, you leave Kettle alone.

Kettle, you stop teasing!

RE: separated at birth
By Pirks on 7/9/2012 8:02:59 PM , Rating: 2
Thorsten Heins has experience with turnarounds. He was at Siemens running the optical transport division at a time when it was losing money. It had an aged portfolio, outdated, under heavy attack from Chinese competitors, and he turned it around. Two years later, it turned profitable, and then it became the most profitable division of Siemens.

heheheee :) so who you calling pot, son? I'll listen to your babble the moment you turned at least ONE corporate division around. bye now troll! :P

RE: separated at birth
By retrospooty on 7/10/2012 8:05:29 AM , Rating: 3
I was referring to the blind idiocy you both hold so dear. It's just funny to see you both going at it. Thus pot and kettle via blind fanboyism.

RE: separated at birth
By Pirks on 7/10/2012 3:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
I have shown you a quote about RIM CEO above, that quote proves that idiocy holding troll here is you, I have at least some foundation to base my opinion on.

RE: separated at birth
By retrospooty on 7/10/2012 6:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
mmm hmmm... good luck with that.

RE: separated at birth
By geddarkstorm on 7/10/2012 12:38:38 PM , Rating: 2
Tony Swash and Pirks battling it out... Now I really have seen everything!

For some reason I can't stop picturing some sort of WWE female mudwrestling to describe these two.

RE: separated at birth
By Cheesew1z69 on 7/10/2012 12:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
Battle of the Dumbasses, tonight on WWE RAW!

RE: separated at birth
By Pirks on 7/10/2012 3:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
with a cheese clown being stomped upon multiple times in the process :P

RE: separated at birth
By Cheesew1z69 on 7/10/2012 4:07:05 PM , Rating: 2
Great comeback! Not. It's really a shame that being a moron such as your self isn't considered child abuse. It's pretty pathetic a kid has to grow up with you as a father.

RE: separated at birth
By Pirks on 7/10/2012 5:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
Ya I'll teach him how to pwn morons like you who can't even do their clown duties properly hehehe :)))

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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