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EU injunction blocking Galaxy Tab 10.1 suspended (except in Germany)

by Phil Hornshaw

The patent dispute between Apple and Samsung in which Apple claims Samsung “slavishly” copied its iPad 2 seems to be turning from “heated” to “circus-like.”

A Dutch website broke the news that the injunction against Samsung that blocked the sales in Europe has been lifted, at least for a week or two. A district court in Düsseldorf has suspended the enforcement of the injunction in all markets except Germany until Aug. 25, when hearings on the matter will go forward, according to IP activist Florian Mueller’s blog, Foss Patents.

Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 were blocked last week all over Europe as the result of Apple’s patent claim against the device. Apple has similar claims in the U.S., although they haven’t yet resulted in any blocked sales, but they could. In Australia, where the Galaxy Tab 10.1 hasn’t been released yet, Samsung is rolling out a different design that it’s giving Apple an opportunity to inspect in order to avoid another dispute.

Mueller reports that the reason for the suspension of the injunction, it appears, is a matter of jurisdiction; the Düsseldorf court may have the power to enact the injunction in Germany, which is has, but may not be in the right when extending it to the rest of the European Union. So until a hearing on Aug. 25 to determine if Düsseldorf has the proper jurisdiction when relating to Samsung, a Korean company, the injunction isn’t being enforced. That’s not to say it has been lifted, though.

Dutch website Webwereld, the site that broke the news that the injunction was lifted, brought up the question of evidence yesterday with its post regarding Apple’s evidence against Samsung. While the stoppage of enforcement on the EU injunction isn’t related to Apple’s evidence, it appears as though that could become an issue in the future, based on what Webwereld discovered.

The site found that Apple’s image depictions of the Galaxy Tab in its German complaint have been slightly altered to give an inaccurate depiction of the tablet. According to PocketGamer, the image shows the Galaxy Tab slightly stretched horizontally, so that when the two tablets are set vertically beside one another, they look to be the same size. The Galaxy Tab 10.1, however, has a wide-screen aspect ratio of 1.36:1; the iPad doesn’t, using a ratio of 1.30:1.

It’s a small difference numerically that’s noticeable in the images when viewed side-by-side, which is exactly how Webwereld displayed it. As Mueller reported, though, it doesn’t appear that that image, or any of Apple’s other evidence, has come into question in terms of the injunction... yet. But Webwereld’s findings suggest that that evidence should be combed through a little more carefully.

Stay tuned for more developments on Aug. 25, when the hearing goes through to figure out what will happen to the Galaxy Tab in Europe. I’d be surprised if Samsung didn’t fight the injunction armed with Webwereld’s evidence before long. Seems like this fight is only going to get more ridiculous, not less.