Samsung not bushwhacked by EU tablet ban, says expert

Claimed it was surprised by Apple-initiated injunction, but actually opposed motion a week earlier, court confirms

Samsung was not blindsided by a German court's injunction that stopped sales of its Galaxy Tab tablet in most European countries, according to a patent expert.

On Tuesday, Apple confirmed that a Düsseldorf court had issued a preliminary injunction blocking Samsung from selling its tablet in all European Union countries with the exception of the Netherlands.

Apple and Samsung are locked in a patent infringement battle in multiple jurisdictions, including the U.S. and the EU, with the former accusing its rival of "slavishly copy[ing]" Apple's iPhone and iPad technologies and designs.

After the preliminary injunction was granted, Samsung claimed that it had been surprised at the decision.

Samsung told the IDG News Service, like Computerworld, part of IDG, that the injunction request was filed without its knowledge and the order granted "without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung."

Not completely true, said Florian Mueller, a patent activist and analyst who writes the FOSS Patents blog.

According to a press release (download PDF; in German) issued today by the Landgericht, or District Court, in Düsseldorf, Samsung had filed a "Schutzschrift," or protective pleading, with the court.

Under German law, when a company expects that a request for a preliminary injunction will be filed, it is allowed to submit a protective pleading to spell out its likely defenses against a possible motion, said Mueller.

Samsung did just that on July 29, more than a week before the injunction was awarded to Apple, arguing that there was no urgency that justified banning sales of the Galaxy Tab.

The Korean electronics giant also told the court that it was preparing a petition to ask that Apple's asserted design registrations be ruled invalid.

Mueller chastised Samsung for its misleading statement earlier this week.

"Samsung wasn't blindsided.... [It] knew it had this coming, and the court's decision was based on both Apple's motion and Samsung's preemptive opposition pleading," said Mueller in a blog post Friday. "This kind of communication strategy on Samsung's part is old-school spin doctoring and only serves to strengthen my impression that Samsung is in a legally weak position against Apple."

Samsung will appeal the injunction during a hearing scheduled for Aug. 25 in the Düsseldorf court.

If Samsung is unable to get the injunction revoked at the hearing -- something Mueller said was unlikely -- it will probably appeal the decision to the next-highest court, Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf, or Higher Regional Court, he said.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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