Apple Has A Bad Day With Samsung And iPad 3

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Apple faces a turnover of the Samsung injunction and iPad 3 may be delayed with screen supply problems

It was a black Wednesday for Apple. Samsung managed to overturn the European Union ban on sales of its flagship tablet, an action prosecuted by Apple, and the iPad 3 launch was “put back” because of technical problems.

Added to the news that if Google’s bid for Motorola Mobile goes through, Apple will lose some of its patents litigation power because of its reliance on Motorola technologies, it is probably not a good time to be in the Cupertino company’s boardroom.

Guilty Till Proven Innocent

The Samsung ban was granted in a Dusseldorf court last week under laws which apply automatically across the European Union countries. Samsung complained that it had not been invited and several bloggers have called it a case of the court assuming Samsung was “guilty until proven innocent”.

Apple won the injunction to ban the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 model based on a European principle of Community Design. The law was passed by the European courts in 2002 and, under the ruling, allows photos or sketches to be used to prove prior design rights.

In court, Apple showed a diagram of the iPad that was drawn up in 2004 which the courts accepted as prior art. In a separate hearing in the Netherlands, a Dutch court threw Apple’s case out for at least two months when Samsung showed images and actual models that had similar designs to Apple’s iPad.

One compulsive piece of evidence was a video made by publishing group Knight Ridder in 1994, ten years before Apple’s drawing, that showed a mock-up of a concept machine: a rectangular, black tablet that not only resembles the iPad but also was planned to display multimedia elements.

The reprieve for Samsung, which does not apply in Germany, may be short-lived in the rest of Europe as the court has said the ban will only be removed for a minimum of ten days – which is when the litigants meet head-on in the German courts on August 25.

Samsung issued a statement: “Samsung welcomes the Dusseldorf District Court’s decision to suspend the pan-European preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung is fully committed to providing our innovative mobile devices to the market without disruption, and ensuring that consumers have a wider selection of innovative products to choose from.

“We look forward to the opportunity to reassert our intellectual property rights at the hearing scheduled on August 25,” the company said.

Display Of Concern

On the iPad 3 front, if Apple had any intention of launching a slightly smaller iPad in autumn, it now looks certain that it will not launch a tablet before 2012.

It appears that the new 9.7-inch higher resolution screens that have a 2048×1536 pixels display are causing concern. Apple hoped to source them from Sharp, Samsung and LG but Sharp is the only company to have successfully met the challenge.

Supply is a problem, and the current lawsuits with Samsung may mean the South Korean company will not be so keen to sell to Apple. This is just a temporary problem, more challenging is the likely desire of Apple to slim down the screens to keep the trim looks of the iPad.

The Sharp displays need a stronger and larger backlight than previous iPad screens. Given the leadership iPad has in the tablet market, it seems that Apple is content to wait.

The need for further research at Sharp is firing up rumours of a $1 billion investment coming from Apple.

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