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Dutch court issues Apple’s injunction against Samsung, could block Galaxy phones in EU

by Phil Hornshaw

Well, Apple got what it wanted: a preliminary injunction from a Dutch court that precludes sales of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones in the European Union.

It’s the latest strike against Samsung from the iPad and iPhone creator, which claims that the Korean company has ripped off Apple’s devices in the creation of the newest Galaxy Tab 10.1 model and its Galaxy S handsets. Apple is currently suing Samsung all over the world, including in the U.S. Last week, it earned a preliminary injunction against Samsung in the European Union from a German district court, banning sales of the Galaxy Tab for a few days, but jurisdiction issues have caused the enforcement of that injunction to be suspended.

Apple has another suit going in The Netherlands, and according to a story from TechCrunch, it earned its injunction there, as well. This time, though, it’s for smartphones, with the two Galaxy Tab models – the 10.1 and the 7 – making it out of the court unscathed. But not so lucky were the company’s Galaxy phones: the Galaxy S, the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Ace, which goes on sale in mid-October.

There are some legal things to work through here: Samsung’s Netherlands-based subsidiaries are feeling the injunction, and it applies to, mostly, just The Netherlands. Meanwhile, though, some issues on Apple’s part prevent the injunction from stopping Samsung altogether. Here’s a quote from the TechCrunch story:

In this case, the patent in question was not made valid in a number of different European nations because Apple didn’t follow through with the application process and pay the related costs of approval. Countries in which the patent is not valid include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Spain, according to FOSS Patents.

That means that because Apple hasn’t got the patents in other European states, Samsung’s Korean headquarters is unaffected by the injunction except in The Netherlands, and only its three Netherlands-based branches are really affected by it. Samsung has said it will continue to sell its devices in Europe and is fighting the injunction, according to a story from PocketGamer.

Previously, it was believed that an injunction from The Hague would have serious repercussions for Samsung, given that its European hub is based in The Netherlands. It seemed as though such a ruling would block Samsung’s ability to ship its devices out to other countries in the EU, thereby effectively placing a de facto injunction on it everywhere.

But it seems that that won’t be the case, and at least for now Apple hasn’t stopped Samsung in Europe. But the patent saga is far from over, it seems, and before long the two companies are going to start getting some real rulings enforced, which will be a big deal for the smartphone and tablet markets. Samsung and Apple are the leading smartphone sellers right now: if one is suddenly banned from selling its products in major markets, that could change rapidly.