Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N passes German legal muster despite Apple’s objections

by Phil Hornshaw

After an injunction in Germany that banned Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, the South Korean Android device maker has reworked the tablet’s design to meet a Dusseldorf court’s standards to avoid infringing on patents held by Apple for its iPad.

The new Galaxy Tab 10.1N, as the device is called, is different enough from the iPad that it’ll likely pass legal muster and won’t infringe, a German judge said today, according to a story from Ars Technica. The case isn’t quite shut yet, however – the judge still has to rule on the device and Apple is working to get this new Galaxy Tab banned in Germany, as well.

Apple won an injunction in the country against Samsung’s original Galaxy Tab 10.1 by claiming Samsung had “slavishly copied” Apple’s design for the iPad. The German court agreed, banning the sale of the device in the country because it ruled the look and feel of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 came too close to Apple’s patented designs. The answer to that injunction, the 10.1N, reworks that design slightly in order to make Samsung’s tablet more distinct. The device has been designed only for the German market; its most distinct new feature is the tablet’s metal rim, which wraps toward the front of the device in the 10.1N rather than lying flat behind the black bezel on the 10.1.

Apple still isn’t satisfied that Samsung’s tablet is significantly different enough from its iPad, however, and is working for another injunction against the device. As GigaOM points out, however, it’s probably unlikely that Apple will win a second injunction, given that the Dusseldorf judge said in a preliminary statement that Samsung has sufficiently moved the design of the 10.1N away from the iPad. That’s not the official ruling just yet, since there will be another hearing on the injunction, but Apple would probably have to come up with some compelling new arguments about how the device infringes on its iPad patents.

There’s no timeframe for the final ruling in Germany, but if the ruling goes down as expected, it could hurt Apple’s attempts to get similar bans against Samsung in other countries, like Australia. But for the time being, it seems as though Samsung has been successful in getting its Galaxy Tab 10.1 back to Germany, in some form. Now it’s just a matter of when the device might be able to go back on sale.