Apple has won a legal battle preventing Samsung from selling its Galaxy 10.1 Tablet in Europe, with similar suits against Samsung pending in Australia, the US and Netherlands. The decision could have a holistic impact on Samsung’s tablet designs, Android developers and Google’s droid management.
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|Samsung’s Banned Galaxy 10.1|
Computerworld reports the ruling deemed Samsung’s tablet imitated the design of Apple’s iPad. Although the decision pertains to European countries, the result could very well be the same for the Australian market, with Samsung already cancelling the highly anticipated tablet’s launch.
Smarthouse has already reported that Australian patenting does not cover electronic design, with an IP Australia representative informing a design application needs to be filed separate to a patent in Australia.
“If a Company or a person wants to lay claim to a design they have to lodge a design application. This is separate to a patent. Decisions relating to patents or design have to be based on applications made to IP Australia not based on US patents or US design patents” an IP Australia official said.
With the preliminary injunction granted, Apple hasn’t made it clear what they expect to do with its new leverage. Their privileged position could stop sales of competing tablets and smartphones, arrange a settlement with manufacturers, or establish patent licenses which could up the cost of its Android competition.
Currently, Android is the most prominent of Apple’s rivals, as comscore’s June 2011 report notes Google has 40.1% of the US market share, with Apple trailing in second place with 26.6%. Also Samsung is the most popular mobile manufacturer in the US, thanks to its Galaxy range’s blistering sales and its widely used feature phones. Two birds, one stone?
Concerned analysts fear that Androids relatively limp patenting licences could deter thousands of droid developers, who want to develop applications for the most popular OS where they can reap in the biggest profits. Intellectual expert Florian Mueller said “It will give Android device makers as well as developers pause.”
Worse yet, Google might have to make Android closed source and charge licensing fees to safeguard it legally.
“This is a serious blow to Samsung in a huge market,” Mueller said, adding “Samsung will continue to fight Apple around the globe,” with him expecting an appeal to be lodged in a few days.
Samsung released its distaste in the decision in an official statement:
“The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung. We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world.”
Samsung’s success is partly owed to Android and its widespread support; however, it is not the only manufacturer facing patenting troubles, with HTC and Motorola too coming under fire from Apple. Additionally, Java developer Oracle is also taking Android to court over patents.
Mueller claims depending on how Apple proceeds Google’s best option would be to represent all 39 manufacturers sporting its OS, establishing closed sourced licences and negotiating with Apple over intellectual property disputes.
Despite Mueller’s position on the matter, other analysts believe the onslaughts of patent battles are wasteful. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney mentioned in an email “The whole patent thing is a mess with only the [manufacturers’] and lawyers’ self-interests at heart.”
Dulaney also observed Android’s market prominence, believing the ruling will have little, if any, influence over Google’s market share.
“Does this [ruling] make WebOS tablets more attractive? PlayBook more attractive? I don’t think so.”
Justice Annabelle Bennett scheduled the Australian hearing between Samsung and Apple for August 29, where she will review the status of the case and set a trial date if necessary.