Tablet maker David beats Apple in court

Dylan Bushell-Embling
03 Nov 2011

A small Spanish computer maker has managed to overturn an injunction on sales of its Android tablets that had been won by Apple, and is now going after the iPad maker for damages.

The verdict could also have implications for Apple's attempt to ban Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe, as Apple's case hinged on the same design right it is using in these battles.

Spain's Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Catalá (nt-k) announced that it has won the right to resume sales of its Android-based tablet, after Apple succeeded in a bid to have its products temporarily seized by Spanish customs.

Now nt-k will pursue compensation for lost profits and other monetary damages, and has also filed a complaint with the nation's competition regulators accusing Apple of using legal threats as a weapon to cull the herd of competition.

Patent expert Florian Mueller, on his FOSS Patents blog, noted that Apple's strategy had been exceptional in that it was pursuing criminal charges against nt-k.

“Considering that this was not a case of product piracy but just a dispute over whether or not Apple has exclusive design rights covering nt-k's Android-based products, I think it's absolutely outrageous that Apple tried to attack its rival under criminal law,” he said.

Mueller also stated that Apple's copycat charges were based on the same so-called Community Design right – which differs from a technical patent and is valid in Europe – which Apple has asserted in its cases Samsung in Germany and the Netherlands.

Apple won an injunction on Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in Germany based on this Community Design, but was not successful in asserting the right in the Netherlands.

Separately, Samsung has filed a request in an Australian court that it be allowed to access the source code for the iPhone 4S, as well as details of carrier agreements Apple has made for the handset, Forbesreported.

The requests have been filed as part of Samsung's courtersuit alleging that the iPhone 4S violates its own patents.

Success for Samsung will hinge on convincing the Australian courts that the FRAND standard compelling holders of essential patents to license them at a fair price does not extend to Australia.

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