Samsung Loses Dutch Ruling Over Smartphone Sales in Dispute With Apple
Samsung Electronics Co. lost a Dutch court ruling over sales of its Galaxy S, S II and Ace smartphones in the country in a patent dispute with Apple Inc. (AAPL)
A court in The Hague, Netherlands, said Samsung will have to halt some sales of the products after Oct. 13. The ruling is preliminary and “has no bearing whatsoever on proceeding on the merits of the case,” the court said.
While the Dutch court didn’t extend the ruling to sales of Samsung’s tablets, a German regional court in Dusseldorf on Aug. 9 granted Apple a sales ban against Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet in 26 of the 27 European Union member countries, only to then scale back its effects a week later over jurisdictional doubts.
The legal battle between Apple and rival smartphone makers is intensifying as an increasing number of consumers use smartphones and handsets to surf the Web, play games and download music and videos. Apple, the world’s top smartphone seller, has filed patent cases against handset makers using Google Inc.’s Android operating system, including Samsung Electronics Co., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and HTC.
In the Dutch case, Apple accused its rival of breaching three of its patents including scrolling in the handsets’ photo gallery and the way a device is unlocked, and several design rights for the iPad tablet and the iPhone smartphone.
“We will take all possible measures including legal action to ensure that there is no disruption in the availability of our Galaxy smart phones to Dutch consumers”, Samsung said in an e- mailed statement. The company doesn’t expect that the ruling will affect sales in other European markets. Apple said in an e- mailed statement that “it’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad.”
The Dusseldorf court will today hear oral arguments on whether to reinstate or squash the Aug. 9 tablet sales ban. Apple wrote in a brief filed Aug. 4 that the tablet dispute is worth 2 million euros ($2.9 million), citing a “preliminary estimate.”
The number doesn’t seem to reflect the economic risks at stake and may be a tactic to avoid legal costs, according to Mario Wegner, a litigator at law firm Wegner Ullrich Mueller- Helle & Partner in Berlin.
“You don’t have to be an expert to see that Samsung faces much higher losses if it loses the case and Apple would gain much more if it wins,” said Wegner. “That’s rather self evident to everybody.”
Parties in German litigation need to tell the court how much is at stake for them when they file a case. The amount is used to calculate court fees and also fees lawyers can claim under statutory rules. The legal bill has to be paid by the party that loses the case.
Plaintiff and defendant lawyers alike sometimes downplay the value of the claim at the beginning of a suit only to later adjust them during the proceedings if they feel they may be able win the case, said Wegner.
The tribunal for the time followed Apple’s assessment and set the value of the suit preliminarily at 2 million euros, said court spokesman Peter Schuetz, adding that the judges will make the final ruling. The decision is expected to be issued within three weeks.
Worldwide, tablet computers, led by the iPad, are the fastest-selling products in the $263 billion PC industry, according to researcher IDC. The tablet market is poised to jump almost fivefold over five years to $53 billion by 2015, according to IDC.
To contact the reporter on this story: Maaike Noordhuis in Amsterdam firstname.lastname@example.org
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