Last month, Samsung announced a new tablet in Germany, the Galaxy Tab 10.1N. If you’re wondering what new features this device has compared to the ‘plain’ Tab 10.1, don’t. There aren’t any. The Galaxy Tab 10.1N is just a redesigned Tab 10.1. Redesigned specifically around Apple’s patents, that is.
See, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been banned in Germany on September 9, because, in short, its aspect was much too similar to that of Apple’s iPads. So Samsung decided to work around the Apple patents it supposedly infringed upon in the original tablet. And that’s how the Tab 10.1N was born. And for a very short while, all seemed to be well in Germany.
But Apple didn’t sit idly by, and when it saw that Samsung started selling the redesigned tablet, it pushed for yet another injunction to ban the sale of the new tablet too.
The final ruling on that will happen on February 9, but it looks like Apple won’t have its way this time. The presiding judge in this case, Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann (who was also the judge who banned Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the first place) has said that it’s unlikely that Apple will get its injunction granted. That’s because Samsung’s new design seems to be different enough from that of the iPad not to confuse people. This view is preliminary, though.
The judge was quoted by Bloomberg BusinessWeek saying that
“consumers are well aware that there is an original and that competitors try to use similar designs, so buyers are vigilant when looking at products. We don’t think that someone buys a Samsung to make his table neighbor at the coffee house believe he owns an iPad.”
Samsung has changed the bezel design for the Galaxy Tab 10.1N. There’s less glossy black, and more metal around the edges. The speakers have also been moved to this newly-enlarged metal area, and are thus visible when you’re looking at the front of the tablet. The Korean company has also added a big Samsung logo underneath the screen, which will further help consumers not mistake this tablet for Apple’s.
And the strategy seems to have worked, at least for now. We’ll see what the future turns up. Perhaps Samsung will finally decide to make its entire (say, 2012) product range less similar to Apple’s, in which case many courts in the world will suddenly find they have less patent infringement cases to deal with.
Or maybe this strange cat and mouse game will continue next year. One way or the other, Apple’s major new addition to the mobile world in 2011 has to have been the patent war. Make of that what you wish.
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