Apple Wins: German Court Upholds Ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Devices

A German court upheld a ban barring Samsung’s local unit from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablets after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) filed suit, claiming the tablet computers infringed on some of its patents. Samsung’s Galaxy devices, which include both smartphones and tablets, are considered Apple’s greatest competition in the mobile market.

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Samsung plans to contest what it has called a disappointing ruling that restricts design innovation and progress in the industry. Samsung will also continue to aggressively pursue Apple for having violated some of Samsung’s own wireless technology patents around the world. The ban upheld Friday applied only to Germany.

German retailers such as consumer electronics chain Media Markt will still be able to sell the device, both by selling off existing stock and getting new supplies from the group’s parent, Samsung International. “The ruling affects Samsung Germany and Samsung International, not the retailers or the consumers,” a court spokesman said.

Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann, giving her ruling in a court in Duesseldorf, said the physical design of Samsung’s tablet was too similar to that of Apple’s iPad. “It [the tablet] is distinguished by its smooth, simple areas,” Brueckner-Hofmann said. Apple said that sort of “blatant copying” was wrong, and that they had to “protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.” Apple has pursued claims against the Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets, which it says “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad, in the United States, Australia, Japan, and Korea, as well as in Europe.

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While Apple has been at the forefront of many patent debates, the quickly evolving mobile sector is rife with claims of patent infringements, and tablet and smartphone makers buying up patent portfolios in order to protect their products. Most companies involved in some aspect of the mobile market — including Motorola Mobility Holdings (NYSE:MMI), HTC, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and even Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — have been involved in some way in a patent dispute, or a push to acquire patent portfolios or entire companies in order to hedge against the risk that they’ll find themselves facing a similar predicament to that of Samsung.