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Samsung takes another hit in patent punch-up

Korean firm loses bid to ban Apple products in the Netherlands

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

In the third blow against Samsung this week, a Dutch court has turned down its application for an injunction against Apple's products on the basis of 3G patents.

The case, one of the many in the Apple v Samsung patent debacle, was potentially shaky, given that 3G is a standard and therefore the patents involved in it are available under licence on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

And the court in the Hague backed up the general view on FRAND issues, that if a company wants to use a patent from an essential standard, it's open to being licensed. The ruling therefore ordered the two companies to negotiate such an agreement.

The decision will make it very difficult for any of the rest of preliminary injunctions Samsung has sought against Apple mobile devices, such as its attempts to hobble the Jesus-mobe 4S in France and Italy. Although neither of those courts have to obey a Dutch ruling, fellow European courts are likely to give it a lot of weight in their decisions, according to independent patent blogger Florian Mueller.

It is also just more bad news for Samsung after American and Australian cases went against it earlier this week.

A US court judge said that Samsung does infringe on design patents of Cupertino, though the fruity firm will still have to prove the validity of those patents before getting a country-wide ban on Samsung stuff.

Meanwhile, a court in Sydney has granted Apple's request for an injunction against the Galaxy 10.1 tablet.

Preliminary injunctions are, obviously, not forever, but they will last until a case is sorted out, which could take years. Often, succeeding in getting a PI is enough to "win" the case, because the company whose products aren't on the shelf is losing too much money to continue the fight.

It's still unclear how far Apple will force Samsung to go if they continue to maintain the upper hand in the patent wars.

The Jobsian cult may just want a cut of the revenues from Samsung's Galaxy line-up in the form of royalty payments to license its patents, or it could force the Korean company to redesign the whole lot by refusing to license any of the patents it is basing its cases on. ®

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