Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Unfair Competition Prevails Over Community Design in Apple/Samsung Dispute

The widely discussed (e.g. here, here, here and here) Preliminary Injunction issued by the Düsseldorf District Court based on Apple's Registered Communitiy Design for the "IPad" was now, according to the court's press infromation, partially upheld.

Samsung brought the "Ozolins-Design" disclosed in 2004 in the US patent application US 2004/0041504 A1 as new prior art supplementing the interesting evidence used in the 1st instance. The court found the Ozolins-Design takes away the novelty of the feature that the design is "frameless" such that the differing features gain in importance. The feature that the Apple design is a two-part design with one housing and one front cover is contrasted with the 3-part design of the Samsung Glaxy Tab featuring an additional "clamping"-frame. As a consequence, the Galaxy Tab was found not to infringe Apple's Community Design.

Interestingly, the preliminary injunction was finally upheld based on the German Unfair Competition Law (a brief summary can be found here), which again proves to be a powerful and sharp sword in supplementary design protection in Germany with a scope of protection being (at least in this case) even wider than that of the registered designs.

In contrast to the 1st instance, the court assumes EU-wide jurisdiction not only over Samsung's German subsidiary but also over the mother company.

Please note that this is a preliminary decision only. PatLit is looking forward to reporting on the proceedings on the merits, which are likely to follow now.

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