A Dutch court has ruled to ban the import and sale of certain Samsung devices on the grounds that they infringe upon Apple's intellectual property.

A judge of the court in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled on Wednesday that Samsung's tablet PCs with its Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Tab 10.1 and 10.1v and its smartphones Galaxy S, S II and Ace, (quote via Google translation) had violated three specific Apple patents -- a method of scrolling / browsing gallery, a specific 'unlocking via image' method, and recording a 'flag' in connection with multiple screen taps.

Of the latter, the order specifically notes that Android OS version 2.3 (Gingerbread) is at issue, which could imply that any Android device imported and sold in The Netherlands could also be in jeopardy from future Apple litigation. The court specifically excluded this patent from applying to the Galaxy tablets listed.

A minor detail that many sources have seized upon is a film clip from Kubrick's iconic 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey filed as evidence by Samsung. Characters in the film use a device that resembles the iPad in various ways, and Samsung may have intended this to be legal evidence of prior art -- but more likely, Samsung may be making the point that devices with similar uses will share a certain amount of necessarily similar design features.

This ban is particularly significant due to the Netherlands' position as a point of import for Samsung's European distribution network. While this has led some sources to report the ruling as a 'Europe-wide ban', Florian Mueller of FOSSPatents has observed that the Dutch court's ruling does not bind Samsung's Korean parent company -- only three different Samsung subsidiaries registered in the Netherlands -- with respect to other countries than the Netherlands.

If Samsung's Korean parent company wants to exercise its freedom to ship into other European countries despite this injunction, it will have to reorganize its logistics chain in Europe accordingly,' Mueller writes.

The Netherlands was the sole European exception earlier in the month when a German court also declared a preliminary ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales and imports. One week later, the ban was judged to be unenforceable for the remainder of Europe when the Dusseldorf court amended its ruling, having determined that its jurisdiction applied only within German borders.


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