The patent wars rage on as a new chapter in legal copyright claims is beginning to flare up after the long tension between Apple and Samsung continues in court. Leading design patent experts believe that with the recent court hearings on patent right claims from Apple, the tide could likely turn in favor of Samsung’s bid to sell its Galaxy Tab series.

Last October, U.S District Judge Lucy Koh waved two tablets in the air asking for Samsung’s attorney to point out which was the iPad and the Galaxy Tab.  Surprisingly, the attorney replied, “Not at this distance, your Honor.”  With that statement, news agencies began spreading the word that Apple has potentially gained leverage in its ongoing dispute over copyright claims, in which Samsung was accused of “slavishly copying” many of Apple’s designs.

The news backfired, as the tablet-waving session turned out to be in favor of Samsung’s crusade in bringing down Apple’s patents altogether. According to Christopher V. Carnai, chair of the American Bar Association’s Design Rights committee, the crucial moment came when Judge Koh related Apple’s tablet to the 1994 Knight Ridder tablet, along with the judge’s remark, “I think that invalidates.”

Judge Koh’s statement gave a devastating blow to Apple’s copyright claim over the iPad design, stating that the patent was invalid as it reflects Samsung’s defense raising an art reference of the design, specifically the Knight Ridder.

An unsealed court filing shows that Samsung’s primary argument is based on the fact the iPad design is obvious:

In 1994, the publisher Knight-Ridder produced and distributed a video that showed such a device with many of the elements embodied in Apple’s later D’889 patent application, including an overall rectangular shape with four evenly rounded corners, a flat clear surface on the front of the device, a rim surrounding the front surface, a substantially flat back panel that rounds up near the edges to form the rim around the front surface, and a thin form factor. Apple failed to disclose this device to the PTO during the D’889 patent’s prosecution, even though Apple knew of its existence directly from Dr. Fidler, with whom Apple worked.

In order for Apple to likely succeed in the preliminary injunction stage, the company must prove whether or not the iPad design is obvious when being compared to the Knight-Ridder tablet and other past designs. Apple and Samsung’s legal battle continues globally as Apple fights it way to maintain control over its tablet market share.

Who do you think is right in this battle between Samsung and Apple?