A German court rejected Apple's claims that Samsung Electronics' reworked tablet PC still looks like a copycat version of the iPad, in a preliminary assessment.
Apple is fighting several rival makers of smartphones and tablet PCs in courts worldwide over intellectual property.
Its battle with Samsung, which is Apple's supplier as well as a competitor, has been especially bitter, with some 30 legal cases in 10 countries.
According to the court's assessment, the defendant has moved away sufficiently from the legally protected design, Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann said in court on Thursday.
Brueckner-Hofmann added that a ruling was slated for February 9.
In response to an earlier court ruling in Apple's favour, Samsung had redesigned its Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market only and named it Galaxy Tab 10.1N.
But Apple challenged the reworked version as well, seeking an injunction that would ban Samsung from marketing the product in Europe's largest consumer market.
Samsung, for its part, earlier this week filed new claims in a separate dispute related to telecommunications standard technology with Apple for alleged patent infringements in Germany.
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)