One of the smaller companies they have gone after in Spain has successfully defended themselves against accusations they violated Apple's EU Community Design rights for the iPad.
As we've detailed in the past, the design Apple registered with the EU Office For Harmonization In The Internal Market is nothing more than a thin, rectangular tablet with rounded corners, a bezel around the display, and various external connectors on the edges.
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A blog post (in Spanish) on the website of NT-K tells the story of how Apple's aggressive defense of this basic and obvious design led to the seizure of tablet shipments by customs and NT-K being placed on an EU wide list of IP infringeers.
On top of that, it seems Apple took the extraordinary step of pursuing a criminal complaint, rather than a civil lawsuit, against the company.
Having now been cleared (linked article in Spanish) of those charges, NT-K is waiting for a decision on the antitrust complaint they filed against Apple with Spain's National Competition Commission.
As we have pointed out in the past, one of the big problems Apple faces with a strategy of keeping competitors for the iPhone and iPad out of the market is that companies who control a market are subject to intense regulatory scrutiny.
This is a challenge Apple's days as the smaller, leaner competitor to Microsoft and Windows doesn't seem to have prepared them for.
It is not just their intellectual property they need to protect, but also their image. Steve Jobs' remarks to his biographer, stating his goal was to destroy Android for personal reasons, isn't going to help.
Apple has all the tools they need to be the top smartphone and tablet maker for years to come without abusing the legal system to hamstring competitors. It would be ironic if an obsession with the competition ended up costing them their position in those markets.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 2 Nov 2011 16:21