back to article Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban

A German court sided with Apple today and agreed that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 infringes iPad design patents, granting Cupertino permission to push for a European Union-wide ban. The same court threw out Apple's claims against the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, though. Cupertino had previously tried to squash the 10.1N in the Munich Regional …

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Anonymous Coward

wtf?

it's a different freakin' size! Does this confirm Apple are releasing in the future, ie. not out yet, a 7" tablet? Can no one ever release any tablet now, incase Apple want to launch something that will resemble the Star Trek/2001 tablet?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: wtf?

Right, so I can start selling slightly smaller rolex watches? :D

This is actually a "good" judgement in one way, because the 10.1n (or whatever it was called) escaped the ban. Now samsung should know what's too close and gets branded a copy by the court, and what they'll get hammered for. Expect a 7.7n tab shortly with the same changes they made for the 10 incher.

I think the whole problem though is the way IP is handled by the courts. If samsung had made an iTab that was an identical clone of the iPad, apple can't go to the court and get a sensible judgement just based on that. They have to sue based on very specific things (best case a design patent, but more usually stuff like patents on a particular type of scrolling or something). And the court won't accept a massive list of such features that make up the product, so they have to pick a few key features.

End result: they win (sometimes, patent disputes are rarely certain), the other company removes one or two features, then they start again with 4 more minor features and repeat forever.

*Eventually* you end up with products that compete but don't copy, but it takes forever and it'd make a LOT more sense for the court to just deal with it all in one go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: wtf?

"it's a different freakin' size! Does this confirm Apple are releasing in the future, ie. not out yet, a 7" tablet? Can no one ever release any tablet now, incase Apple want to launch something that will resemble the Star Trek/2001 tablet?"

Which infringed patent in question has anything to do with 'size' or 'resemblance'?

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Re: wtf?

Does this mean I can sell watches smaller than Rolexes which don't have the crown emblem or the word Rolex on them and don't look like Rolexes other than the features which are common to all watches? Not if they have the same lawyers as Apple.

We already have products which don't copy. All we need is for Apple to compete.

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Re: wtf?

I think the whole problem though is the way IP is handled by the courts. If samsung had made an iTab that was an identical clone of the iPad, apple can't go to the court and get a sensible judgement just based on that. They have to sue based on very specific things (best case a design patent, but more usually stuff like patents on a particular type of scrolling or something). And the court won't accept a massive list of such features that make up the product, so they have to pick a few key features.

I think the whole problem is that IP is handled by courts. This mess is being repeated, ad nauseam, with different results, in every distinct jurisdiction in the world. End result: conflicting decisions, conflicting remedies, 600 different variations just to satisfy the different remedies. The first step in any dispute between international entities should be the selection of a single jurisdiction for the dispute. And hopefully this step would be difficult enough and take long enough to dissuade those without serious complaints.

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FAIL

Re: wtf?

"The first step in any dispute between international entities should be the selection of a single jurisdiction for the dispute."

Good luck getting the Americans and particularly the current group of paranoid teabaggers in Congress to sign up for that.

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Unhappy

Re: wtf?

"Good luck getting the Americans and particularly the current group of paranoid teabaggers in Congress to sign up for that."

Of course they will!! It'll just always be a US jurisdiction chosen - with the rest of us being bound by their judgements.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh yes oh yes

I love it, oh the chaos........ Bring it on.......

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Anonymous Coward

Being

Being so efficient the Germans have obviously looked into this in detail. Of course, the supplier of IT hardware to the German Judiciary had no bearing on the outcome of the case.

As Judge Helmut Pilsner stated in his court address, "ve vill not bite ze hand that feeds us!"

Judge Pilsner also congratulated Apple on the design of the IPad and stated off the record, "ze Zamzung ist a debacle and shuut never haf been allowed, it is a poor copy of the iPad, but never ze less I vill punish zem for zair cheek!"

Judge Pilsner was last photographed shaking hands will a man who handed him a box containing what is believed to contain a new Mac book pro with retina display.

Der Spiegel. 21/07/2012 Hamburg edition

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Re: wtf?

Not only is it a different size, its a different shape too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: wtf?

Yeah so if I invent [insert anything we don't have yet from star trek] I should not be allowed to patent is because of prior-art - really.

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@Chris 19

No, if the only difference in the tablets and their functionality vis a vie the slide to unlock "patent" is the size, the only thing we have confirmed is our suspicion that the judges are making this up as they go along. Which in turn means nobody's property, intellectual or otherwise, is reasonably secure from random seizure.

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Mushroom

This has to stop.

It's time to start protesting this by picketing the Apple-stores with leaflets explaining why handing money to Apple is financing abuses towards the customers.

People willingly handing money to this monster, should be hospitalized, same as any other Stockholm-syndrome sufferer.

Apple as a company must be stopped, preferably by sending any Apple-employees to North Korean KZ-camps manning quarries.

//Svein

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

Wow, if you're going to do that to apple, what are you going to do to Samsung and their customers? Hack their legs off with a rusty lawnmower blade? I say this because, bad as apple's "IP enforcement" shall we call it? happens to be, what samsung are trying is actually *far worse*. Thus it's samsung that's under investigation for patent abuse by the EU and not apple.

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Mushroom

Re: This has to stop.

How many companies are Apple suing again?

And, quite frankly, given Apple's behaviour, I'm open for ANY SOLUTION that puts that company out of business. Permanently.

//Svein

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

And again, considering that Samsumg (and google/motorola!) are doing *far* worse things than apple right now when it comes to patent abuse, surely they have to be first on the chopping block?

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Stop

Re: This has to stop.

This does indeed have to stop, however make no mistake, each company is a bad as the other. Whether you are an Apple fan, a Google/Hardware partner fan or simply a technology fan, these bans on hardware and software features are bad for the consumer.

Its the system that needs changed though, as any company in their right mind will use the system to protect their own bottom line and customer base. How to fix the system? Thats the million dollar question.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

@Chris 19: considering that Samsumg (and google/motorola!) are doing *far* worse things than apple right now

Citation please.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS RECEIVES MOST U.S. DESIGN PATENTS — IPO’s 2012 IP Record reports that in 2011 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. received 328 U.S. design patents. Procter & Gamble Co. and LG Electronics Co ranked second and third receiving 270 and 236 patents respectively.

Link

as if their abuse of FRAND wasn't enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

I think he means that Samsung are attempting to sue Apple over FRAND patents. Which, ordinarily is frowned upon, quite rightly. However, what he fails to understand is this possibility...

Samsung enters patent 123 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

LG enters patent 456 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Motorola enters patent 789 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Samsung, LG and Motorola, to avoid having to send invoices and payments to each say, OK, 10p per phone, call it quits.

Apple come along and have no such useful patents, and spit their dummies out over paying 30p per phone. "It's not fair, we're Apple, we want it for nothing" and refuse to pay.

If that happens, is it really unreasonable for Samsung to sue?

Meanwhile, Apple sue on the basis of black rectangles with rounded corners and moving a finger from left to right.

F***ing parasites.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

I don't know about a citation, but this is what the two sides are actually doing:

Apple: Trying to get rival products banned based on software, hardware and design patents. I.e. scrollbars that disappear when not in use? That's apple's invention, you're not allowed to use it. You can certainly say it's bad for progress, and classic nasty business tactics, and a lot of what they're arguing over shouldn't even be patentable in the first place. They're all patents that can be avoided - you don't HAVE to hide those scroll bars. You just end up with a shitty UI.

Samsung & google/motorola: A little bit of what apple is doing, but mostly they deal in FRAND patents. These cover things like 3G + WiFi data, voice calls, standard video formats. If you want a device that connects to the internet and plays videos, you MUST use these patents. Apple have to license them. The companies agreed to license them under FRAND, in exchange for them becoming part of the standard.

FRAND licenses work like this: You take the commercial value of the patent *before* it was included in the standard, and you agree to license at that rate to *anyone* who wants it. This value is normally very low before it's in the standard.

What samsung (and google/motorola) are doing is this: They're asking for 2.25-2.4% of the retail price of an iPhone or iPad (or xbox, or even a PC). Given hundreds of such patents in a standard, and multiple standards needed for any of these devices, you're talking multiples of the retail value of the product just in patent license fees.

No sane company can accept that, an iPad would cost thousands. But on the other hand, you can't build a modern device without using the patents. Samsung + motorola are trying to use this tactic, and then when the company doesn't license, they try to get the device banned.

If they're allowed to do that, they can obviously control the market. So far they haven't been allowed to do that - no court has actually banned a product, and the EU and US are investigating motorola (think only the EU is investigating samsung, but I might be wrong) over anti-trust. It could backfire in a big way, we'll have to wait and see.

I don't think market abuse is actually their goal btw. It's more that apple has a MUCH stronger patent portfolio that samsung want access to (a lot of android is unfortunately covered by apple + MS patents - hence MS get tons of license money, while apple asks for bans as they don't want to license). If they could use FRAND patents as a 'weapon', it's a very powerful one, and apple would be forced to hand over the goods.

(Oh, and yes, I'm sure bits of iOS and WP7 are covered by android patents - but the scales aren't in android's favour, so apple / MS inevitably win patent disputes in the long term).

(And yes, the only company that doesn't look all that evil here is microsoft, who end up having the fairest patent policy out of these companies. Who would've seen that coming?!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

@AC "I think he means that Samsung are attempting to sue Apple over FRAND patents. Which, ordinarily is frowned upon, quite rightly. However, what he fails to understand is this possibility..."

If that possibility was reality, then fair enough. The reality is more like LG asking for their usual 10p, apple paying it, then samsung + motorola asking for £100 each, apple saying that's a bit high, how about 10p, and samsung/moto refusing.

There's a ton of documentation that's made it out of the courts to show exactly what happened. Apple have made FRAND licensing offers, samsung + motorola have refused and asked for exorbitant fees. Apple are licensing other SEPs under FRAND terms from other companies. Samsung + moto haven't licensed to *anyone* under their "special deal" offers to MS + apple.

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Trollface

Re: This has to stop.

Husband: "Honey, the fat neckbeard handed me this paper with inflammatory trollish statements as to why we shouldn't buy from Apple."

Wife: "lol"

Please go forward with this, I want to see it on the news one day.

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Paris Hilton

Re: This has to stop.

@Chris 19

Umm, have you bothered to look into what your stating? Apple HAS been offered FRAND licensing by those same companies you are so quick to blame. And Apple REFUSED the terms. It was only after that fact when said companies asked for a percentage. In the case of patents Apple is the one at fault here. Round corners? Scroll bars disappearing? They get these patents why exactly? Answer the patent system is FUBAR

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

Actually that is not true. Moto withdrew a licence from a chip supplier that Apple uses. Appl paid for chips from the supplier incl. the patent fee - Moto were paid. Moto withdrew the licence from the chip supplier with respect to any chips sold to Apple. This is a fact that you can look up if you are bothered.

The ND in FRAND means non-discriminatory, so no, MOTO have breached their contractual obligations and they will get dinged for it - hopefully very very hard. This is the MO for Google in general - break the law/contracts whenever they please. No fine will be big enough to hurt them, and in the end the opposition is bankrupt or the law has become unenforceable. There are already numerous examples of this, so Moto (now Google) are behaving as one would expect.

Apple are definitely not the bad guys here - unless your an Apple hater unwilling to become aware of the facts or understand the issues.

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Re: This has to stop.

Re:How many companies...

This is the best graphic I could find

http://go.bloomberg.com/tech-blog/files/2012/07/blog_suing.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This has to stop.

Actually, everyone was offered the same FRAND rates, crapple decided f^&* you we don't need to pay for your vital patents we need to make our shiny shiny and used them anyway. FRAND rates only apply if both parties agree to pay it, as crapple refused to pay the patent owners no longer have to offer them FRAND rates.

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Silver badge
Megaphone

@ Anon 15:23 - you're close, but not quite

I think he means that Samsung are attempting to sue Apple over FRAND patents. Which, ordinarily is frowned upon, quite rightly. However, what he fails to understand is this possibility...

Samsung enters patent 123 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

LG enters patent 456 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Motorola enters patent 789 into a FRAND agreement, with a charge of 10p per use

Samsung, LG and Motorola, to avoid having to send invoices and payments to each say, OK, 10p per phone, call it quits.

Apple come along and have no such useful patents, and spit their dummies out over paying 30p per phone. "It's not fair, we're Apple, we want it for nothing" and refuse to pay.

----

I'm not sure of all the particulars with Samsung, but in the case of Motorola, they had agreements with Qualcomm to use their FRAND patents, and Qualcomm then supplied these chips with license fees fully paid to whoever (Apple, Samsung, Motorola themselves all use Qualcomm chips in many/all their phones) The licenses were paid on a percentage of the sales price. In chips that cost only a few dollars each, a 2% levy is no big deal, it probably amounts to a dime or two.

Apple was paying that, by virtue of buying their chips from Qualcomm who supplied them fully licensed, but Motorola cancelled their agreement with Qualcomm specifically for chips supplied to Apple, so that Apple was now buying unlicensed chips. They then went after Apple demanding 2% of the sales price of the entire iPhone, so instead of 10 cents, the fee would be more like $10. Apple said that was ridiculous and offered to pay 2% of what they're paying for the chip, to equal what everyone else pays. The 'ND' in FRAND is for "non discriminatory", and making Apple pay around 100x what others pay for your patents sure sounds like discrimination. That's where things sit between those two.

Samsung also cancelled it's FRAND agreements with Qualcomm for chips they are supplying Apple. I don't think it's been reported what/how Samsung was charging/is charging others for these FRAND patent licenses. One can assume they are trying to take the same route as Motorola, but in the absence of any evidence either way (as far as I've heard reported) there's no way to draw any conclusions either way who more at fault between the two of them. It would seem Morotola has no leg to stand on, Samsung may or may not depending on the particulars.

While the "Apple started this, let them burn" crowd wouldn't mind seeing Apple get raked over the coals and made to pay through the nose for FRAND patents, be careful what you wish for. If you open the door for abusing FRAND patents even a tiny crack, the ones who step through and really start throwing their weight around will be patent trolls. Phones will double in price and a bunch of shell companies that produce nothing, along with their lawyers, will become wildly rich. It wouldn't be just in phones, it'd be in anything where companies have got together and pooled their patents under FRAND terms. Basically everything in technology, from browsers, to video, to ports like USB and HDMI.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Anon 15:23 - you're close, but not quite

Jesus H. Christ DougS. Someone who actually knows what's going on. GTFOOH before the h8ter crowd here at El Reg lynch you for having the temerity to re-state the provable facts in the case.

And here I was thinking that it was just me who was in the frame.

I am the AC generating all the downvotes further down the thread for saying the same thing, though considerably less eloquently than you did. May I cut and past you summary in every El Reg article about Apple and patents until the h8ters get a clue?

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Silver badge

Headline: "Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban"

First line of article: "A German court sided with Apple today and agreed that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7 infringes iPad design patents, granting Cupertino permission to push for a European Union-wide ban."

So which one is it?

So they haven't got a ban, just permission to attempt to obtain one. During the time between now and then there will be appeals, counter appeals etc etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Headline: "Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban"

I'm more than confused by the same thing. I wouldn't have thought a regional German court would have the power to declare an EU-wide ban anyway (but who knows these days).

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Re: Headline: "Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban"

You're right. They can't. No member state can impose its law on another member state. Only the European Commission (EC) or the European Court of Justice (ECJ) can bind their decisions to member states.

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Windows

No member state can impose its law on another member state?

Sorry, you're forgetting American law which lets the United States to impose its laws in any country it wishes.

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Re: Headline: "Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban"

Does anyone know why a ruling made in a German court applies across the EU, while a ruling made in an English court does not?

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Mushroom

I'm sorry.....What ???

Title says "Apple wins EU-wide Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 ban"

Body of text says "granting Cupertino permission to push for a European Union-wide ban"

thats 2 completely differnt things.

And good luck gettint that ban as another EU court ie the UK has already rulled the opposite way.

This needs for aN EU court in the Hague or wherever to look quickly at the evidence and make an EU wide ruling telling Apple to piss off with all its rediculous patents trying to restrict trade and customer choice.

Then they should do the same and decide if Motorola are being fair or not and rule within a couple of weeks on evidence from both sides already given and make a ruling.

These rulings should be non appealable and would hopefully stop someof the noncence of being able to order from Amazon UK for delivery to Germany but not being able to buy inside your countries borders what should be available or not EU wide.

When will the courts relaise how much time and credabilty is being lost on these cases throughout the EU and just stamp on them.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry.....What ???

Not to be picky but the UK ruled on the 10.1 tablet...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry.....What ???

The UK ruling might be based on entirely different things than the german one. There's perhaps a few hundred different patented things in these devices that could get a rival banned for infringement, if one thing is found not infringing it doesn't mean non of the others are. And the way these things are handled by the courts in different countries varies hugely too. So it's entirely conceivable that the german court found it to infringe and the UK court didn't - and even that a different UK court could say it does next week, based on a different set of patents.

All of which makes the UK judge telling apple to apologise pretty retarded - in 10 years when this is all history maybe he'll be able to order such a thing, but for now whether samsung are guilty of copying (as decided by the court) is a totally open question. Even in the UK.

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Re: I'm sorry.....What ???

The UK judge ruled the following

"At the heart of Birss' ruling, however, is not mere coolness. From his point of view, Samsung is not copying the iPad; instead, both devices are members of the same family. "The front view of the Apple design takes its place amongst its kindred prior art," Birss said, citing such pre-existing tablet devices as those from Flatron, Bloomberg 1 and 2, Ozolins, Showbox, and Wacom.

"They are not identical to each other but they form a family," Birss ruled, noting that "From the front both the Apple design and the Samsung tablets look like members of the same, pre-existing family.""

In other words it was not that the 10.1 didn't infringe Apples patents but that both were results of prior art so your statement in not complete.

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Stop

Re: I'm sorry.....What ???

Big_Ted you can't state the outcome of that court case came from that single statement. There were far more important reasons the judge cited including the definition of "informed user" and how such user would view the two tablets.

Prior art really has little place in community design registrations (aka design patents in the US), you're confusing them with software patents.

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WTF?

@Nine Circles

"Prior art really has little place in community design registrations (aka design patents in the US), you're confusing them with software patents.

Ordinarily I'd agree with you, but looking at the particular community design registration in question, it looks exactly the same as the prior art cases mentioned (I don't have the link to hand, but it was posted on the Reg in the last 2 weeks). That is; they have got a community design registration for something that already exists.

Does that mean that all Samsung have to do is also get a community design registration exactly the same as the others, and then they'll be OK? If that's the case, then community design registration should be taken out and shot.

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Silver badge

Re: If that's the case, then community design registration should be taken out and shot.

Yes, they should, right alongside their close cousins. Patents for real engineering work, that improve the mechanical or electrical function of the device fine. Trademarks so you can be (reasonably) assured the device is from the manufacturer you think you are purchasing it from fine. But all this look and feel monopoly crap has to die, and the sooner the better.

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Missed opportunity

Mr Benz missed a right trick here.

How many metal boxes are there out there that have wheels on four corners with an extra one to help determine direction and have an engine to provide propulsion?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Missed opportunity

The court allowed the 10.1N design, this is not a overreaching ban on all tablets! Can you not see the difference?

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Thumb Up

Good outcome. Clearly tells Samsung that if they try harder and come up with more original designs like the 10.1N they're good to go.

Samsung should know this, after all Samsung also patents the design of their LCD TVs which are not much more than square shapes. They're also the record holders for most design patents filed last year in the US (328 design patent applications). So Samsung know a thing or two about design protection.

Leave it to Germans to make a judgement without muddling matters with unwarranted and unqualified personal opinions re the "coolness" of each particular design.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with all of that, except the bit about the german courts - you make it sound like they're not about the worst courts for patent abuse in the world with their orange book standard.

Hmm.. thinking about it, I'd say their rulings on non-FRAND (like this one) are probably alright. It's just their rulings on anything FRAND related they need a good spanking for.

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Anonymous Coward

Good point re German courts Chris 19, I got a bit carried away at the end :-)

Still boggles the mind how Judge Birss brought "coolness" into a design patent judgement though. Anyway..

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Mushroom

....

...does anyone else have the urge to lock the respective heads of Apple and Samsung in some dark, forgotten dungeon somewhere and refuse to let them out until they stop behaving like spoilt children?

The heads needn't necessarily be still attached to the bodies.

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The only true test is to give an iPad and a Samsung slate to the following

a blind person

a child

your grandmother

They should be able to tell between them if they are the same / have the identical functions.

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Anonymous Coward

I think the running joke also includes a Samsung lawyer, but I guess it's already covered by the above.

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