A court in The Hague banned the shipping of three Samsung Galaxy smartphones to Europe from 13 October, ruling that the company has infringed an Apple photo management patent.
The judge denied all the other grounds on which Apple tried to ban the import of Samsung products into Europe.
"Overall, this is a great victory for Samsung," said Gregor Vos, a lawyer and partner at Klos Morel Vos en Schaap, who specializes in intellectual property litigation. "You should take into account that this is a very specific patent."
Samsung infringes on Apple's EP 2.058.868 patent, the court ruled. The patent is titled "Portable Electronic Device for Photo Management" and describes a way to scroll through a photo gallery using finger gestures on a touchscreen. Android 3.x that is used for tablets does not infringe this patent. The patent issue can be fixed by updating the Android software on the phones to Android 3.x.
Samsung does not infringe on two other patent claims about intellectual copyright and design, Judge E.F. Brinkman ruled. Further, according to the court, Samsung does not "slavishly copy" Apple's iPad and iPhone.
The Dutch ruling comes a day before a German hearing in Düsseldorf. "That is no coincidence, I do not believe that," said Vos. He pointed out that the German court will take a look at the Dutch ruling before the hearing on Thursday and will certainly take it into account. "Add the fact that Apple also messed with the photos, that is something the Germans are not going to like," he said, referring to the fact that Apple delivered false evidence to the German court earlier this month. "So the case looks very good for Samsung." The German court is, of course, free to come to a different decision, he added.
Samsung's Dutch lawyer Bas Berghuis van Woortman called Wednesday's ruling "futile" and "irrelevant."
"We have seven weeks, that we really do not need," he said, referring to the time needed to correct the patent issues before 13 October. It will be relatively easy to adjust the Galaxy S, S II and Ace so they can be imported and sold in Europe, he said. Samsung does not have to recall any of phones as a consequence of the ruling, he said.
Berghuis Woortman is confident about the hearing in Düsseldorf. He said that Samsung is translating the Dutch verdict into German and the translation will available tonight. The verdict will be filed as an official document in the German case, he said.
Samsung in an e-mailed statement said that the company "will take all possible measures including legal action to ensure that there is no disruption in the availability of our Galaxy smartphones to Dutch consumers."
If Samsung fails to do this, the consequences could be significant for the European smartphone market. The Dutch infringement could block the import of all Samsung phones to Europe, since Samsung's distribution centers are located in the Netherlands, Dutch ICT news site Webwereld revealed . That is the main reason why Apple is suing Samsung in The Hague.
The judge denied all the other grounds on which Apple tried to ban the import of Samsung products into Europe. Samsung does not infringe on two other patent claims about intellectual copyright and design, the judge ruled. Further, according to the court, Samsung does not "slavishly copy" Apple's iPad and iPhone .