Will This Samsung Trick Throw Apple?

Samsung (SSNLF.PK) is using a technical tactic to delay rulings in several lawsuits filed against it by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the European Union as allegedly infringing products continue getting sold. According to Bloomberg, the Korean company has made filings at the European Union Trademark Office in Spain to invalidate the intellectual property at the center of the disputes covering five of its tablets and 10 of its smartphones.

The court in Dusseldorf, Germany, meanwhile, has put all the cases on hold until the process in Spain is completed.

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“Even if the invalidity procedures fail in the end, the attacked products will no longer be on the market once the court can finally issue a ruling,” patent expert Oliver Ruhl told Bloomberg. That effectively means that Apple’s claims “are going nowhere.”

Further, any ruling by the Spain-based trademark authority can be appealed with that office and then again with a European court — with some processes taking as long as four years. “As a rule, the bid in Alicante [Spain] will delay the pending suit,” Ruhl said. “The agency lately seems to disregard to a greater extent differences that are merely due to technical design features, leading more easily to the cancellation of IP for devices with a minimalist design.”

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Apple and Samsung have ongoing patent cases against each other in courts in several countries, but one of the iPhone maker’s biggest wins came in Germany after a Dusseldorf court last year issued an EU-wide ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. The order was later restricted to Germany.

Samsung filed the Spain patent invalidity motions on the same day as Apple disclosed the tablet injunction. When Apple filed additional suits against its smartphone models, including the Galaxy S Plus and the S II, Samsung added four more cases.

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