Samsung has been dealt an impressive win in the Dutch Supreme Court, where their Galaxy tab 10.1 was deemed to not have infringed on the iPad design. This follows another win for Samsung, as The Hague ruled in their favor earlier this year, regarding several tablet lawsuits brought forth last fall by Apple.
In regard to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Apple claims Samsung infringed on what the European Union calls “community design”. A special designation under European intellectual property laws, community design is meant to thwart others from copying your design, i.e. copycat clothing. Meant to give lawmakers the right to shut down vendors who sell bootleg Nike shoes, Apple was unsuccessful in their attempt to use the law to block the sale of Galaxy Tabs in Sweden.
According to OHIM, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (trademarks and design), community design is “An RCD is an exclusive right for the outward appearance of a product or part of it, resulting from the features (in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials) of the product itself and/or its ornamentation.” While that may sound pretty cut and dry, it’s not. The Supreme Court in the Netherlands notes that Apple has a valid claim, but the protection offered is limited. The Hague ruled that Samsung tablets were easily distinguishable to the informed user, which the Supreme Court agreed with.
Interestingly enough, community design laws are the same throughout the European Union. While the Netherlands is a relatively small market for both vendors, this ruling sets a precedent for other European cases, pending or forthcoming. Apple will have to do better than to sport fish for Samsung and their devices.