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Minnow Android slab maker BEATS Apple in court

Spanish biz countersues after year-long ban on sales

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Spanish computer maker NT-K had its Android tablets impounded, at Apple's request, but has been vindicated by a local court and is seeking damages from Cupertino for lost earnings and reputation.

Apprecasts the A91 tablet, made by Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Catalá - you must have heard of them - is a rip-off of the iPad design, just like the Samsung Tab, allegedly.

Starting November 2010, NT-K had shipments of its fondleslab impounded on arrival from China. But in a triumphant blog posting the company has declared victory, with local media reporting that the Valencia court has dismissed Apple's claims - and lifted the ban.

Patent-watcher Florian Mueller opines that Apple has really screwed up this time.

NT-K portrays the battle as a dominant, and foreign, company using its legal muscle to stop local competitors entering the market. It has been a year since the company's tablets were impounded following Apple's accusations, with Cupertino accusing the company of criminal plagiarism in December last year. NT-K reckons it has lost considerable business in the intervening time and wants restitution.

In addition to making a civil claim for damages against Apple, NT-K has an ongoing complaint with the National Competition Commission regarding the iPad maker's behaviour.

Mueller points out that Apple deployed the same legal technique it used to get the Samsung Tab removed from shelves in Germany, and tried to apply it in the Netherlands too (where it ended up using a technical patent to achieve the same goal). NT-K isn't the first small company to be targeted by Cupertino, but it is the first to win.

That's good for NT-K, and bad PR for Apple (which, just for a change, hasn't responded to our request for comment, obviously), but given the fragmented nature of European courts, it might not end up having wider implications. ®

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