Samsung Electronics will be allowed to challenge the validity of anApple patent before a decision is made on whether Samsung hasinfringed the patent, the Regional Court in Mannheim, Germany ruledFriday. The judge decided on Friday to suspend a ruling on Apple’s requestfor an injunction on sales of Samsung’s Android products untilGermany’s Federal Patent Court decides on the validity of thepatent in a separate action brought by Samsung. The court in Mannheim had been set to rule on whether the photogallery on Samsung’s Android phones infringed on Apple’s EuropeanPatent entitled “portable electronic device for photo management.” “The lawsuit about the patent has been suspended until the decisionabout the nullity suit, which Samsung has brought to theBundespatentgericht,” Mannheim Regional Court spokesman JoachimBock said in an email. Such a delay is unusual, because German patent courts generallyallow patent holders to apply for injunctions before the FederalPatent Court has ruled on any challenges to a patent’s validity. Acompensation system exists should an injunction be granted based ona patent subsequently found invalid. ABL Laminated Tube
Judges can decide to wait for a validity verdict if they think thepatent is invalid, said Ariane Mittenberger-Huber, spokeswoman forthe Federal Patent Court. She could not say whether Samsung hadalready filed a nullity suit with the Federal Patent Courtregarding the photo gallery patent, but there are some patentvalidity cases involving Apple and Samsung pending, she said. There is no date set yet for oral proceedings to take place in anyof those filed patent validity cases, and they are most likely tobegin at the end of the year or the beginning of next year,Mittenberg-Huber added. Determining if a patent is valid typicallytakes longer than infringement hearings, she said. If a German court allows an injunction based on a patent, companiescan be forced to adjust their devices in such a way that they don’tinfringe anymore, or to stop selling them in Germany at all. Food Packaging Tube
InFebruary for instance, Apple was forced to turn off its MobileMe and iCloud push email services for allGerman users to comply with an injunction granted to MotorolaMobility. Apple said at the time it believes Motorola’s patent isinvalid. Companies often try to work around German injunctions. Apple wasgranted an injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 last yearby the D sseldorf regional court that decided the design of the10.1 is too close to an Apple registered design. This forcedSamsung to alter the design of its tablet to circumvent a stop ontablet sales in one of Europe’s biggest markets. Industrial Flexible Packaging
The adjustedtablet for the German market is called the Galaxy Tab 10.1N and isallowed to be sold by the regional D sseldorf court, that decidedthat the device was sufficiently altered. Apple however stillpursues a ban on the 10.1N and is set to appeal the decision at the higher regional D sseldorf court in June. The court in Mannheim was also set to rule on Friday in anotherlawsuit in which Apple accuses Samsung of infringing on a utilitymodel,a patent-like intellectual property right available underGerman law. Apple alleges that Samsung touch devices infringe onits utility model for “List Scrolling and Document Translation,Scaling, and Rotation on a Touch-Screen Display.” The decision inthis case was moved to May 11, Bock said. Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service.
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