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Galaxy Tab still legal in the Netherlands

Keen to fondle a new slab? Bless the open-minded Dutch

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While Samsung is seeking to overturn a preliminary injunction that prohibits it from shipping its hotly anticipated Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe, a court in The Hague decided not to impose an immediate sales ban in the Netherlands until it reaches a decision on 15 September.

In an unprecedented intellectual property battle, Apple recently filed injunctions at courts in the US, Australia, Germany and in the Netherlands. Cupertino claims that Samsung slavishly copied the design and functionality of Apple's iPhone and iPad lines – both in its new Galaxy Tab tablet and its Galaxy smartphones lines. "This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas," the company said in a statement.

Apple specifically sued Samsung in the Netherlands, because of Samsung's European distribution centre there. If the Dutch judge rules in favor of Apple, a Dutch injunction would come into effect on 13 October, perhaps just in time for the launch of the much awaited iPhone 5.

Meanwhile, Samsung has countersued Apple for infringement of UMTS patents in dozens of courts all over Europe – including in Germany, France and Italy – as a preventive measure. Another court hearing in the Hague related to these 3G patents is set for Wednesday.

Apple's injunction is based on some very generic line drawings, and in court Samsung complained Apple's model registrations are way too general. Samsung's legal team pointed out that there are many other electronic devices that are flat and have rectangles with curved corners and large screens. Samsung's SPF107H 10-inch Digital Photo Frame, for instance, even pre-dates Apple's design. Apple's attorneys, however, revealed market research that showed 80 per cent of consumers thought the iPad and Galaxy Tab were "identical" or "similar".

Do Apple's complaints stand a chance? Maybe not. Dutch Judge Edger Brinkman earlier dismissed similar generic infringement claims in a court case between TomTom and its American rival Garmin.

Although European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of the Galaxy Tab, retailers across Europe continue to sell the tablet as the injunction does not necessarily apply to them. On 25 August, Samsung will to try to overturn the European ban at a Dusseldorf court. ®

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