The Galaxy Tab 10.1N was designed to work around the ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 which was ordered last year, and upheld by a higher court late last month. However, Apple has also filed a lawsuit over the 10.1N, alleging infringement of a patent on displaying lists and documents on a mobile touchscreen device.
Despite Samsung's initial victory in keeping the Galaxy Tab 10.1N on the market, German patent expert Florian Mueller, of the FOSS Patents blog, suggests Apple may have a solid case if they appeal. "It's relatively surprising that the Munich court doubted the validity of that patent," wrote Mueller. "Judge Lucy Koh in California deemed that patent both valid and infringed."
He went on to explain:
This is a patent that a court can easily understand, as opposed to one raising complicated technical issues (which is what many patents related to wireless telecommunications standards do). Only patents that a court can easily evaluate lend themselves to preliminary injunction bids. Preliminary injunctions are granted at the end of fast-track proceedings, in Germany frequently within days of the filing of a complaint. Courts don't have time to go into intricate patent claims within that framework. But such patents are also at a particularly high risk of being invalid, or of being considered likely to be invalid, which is what apparently happened here.
According to Bloomberg, who first broke the story of Apple's defeat, the judge said, "Samsung has shown that it is more likely than not that the patent will be revoked because of a technology that was already on the market before the intellectual property had been filed for protection."
Out of all the patents Apple has sued Android vendors over, this one may the most significant. In Meuller's words, it is "Apple's favorite make-Android-awkward patent." Even a single injunction based on this patent could force major changes to Android's UI.
By contrast, Apple's German lawsuit over the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 revolve primarily around the size and shape of the device. Outside Germany those claims have failed to convince judges to ban Samsung tablets. More importantly, even if Apple succeeds, it should be much easier for manufacturers to bypass them with design changes which don't fundamentally alter the user experience.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 2 Feb 2012 12:35