Samsung has been dealt another blow in Germany.
The Higher Regional Court in Dusseldorf today upheld an earlier injunction, requested by Apple and imposed by a lower court on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, saying that the tablet violates a German anti-competition statute. In addition, the court said that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is also in violation of the law.
In September, Judge Joahnna Brueckner-Hoffman ruled that there is a "clear impression of similarity" between Apple's iPad and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and banned Samsung's tablet from sale in the country. As one might expect, Apple was quite pleased with the ruling, but Samsung argued that "it severely limits consumer choice in Germany."
Soon after the injunction, Samsung filed an appeal to the Higher Regional Court. Although that court came to the same conclusion, its reasoning was different from Brueckner-Hoffman's. In September, the magistrate made its ruling based on a patent violation. The Higher Regional Court's concern is competition.
It seems competition--or a perceived lack of it--is becoming a thorn in Samsung's side.
Also today, the European Union's European Commission announced that it's launching a formal investigation into whether Samsung has used wireless patents as an anticompetitive tool against Apple.
"The Commission will investigate, in particular, whether in doing so Samsung has failed to honor its irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms," the EC said in a statement today. "The Commission will examine whether such behavior amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU)."
The EC didn't say when it plans to make a final ruling, but formal investigations have been known to take years, so the trouble surrounding alleged anti-competitiveness might not be an immediate concern for Samsung.
Getting the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on store shelves in Germany might not be Samsung's biggest concern, either. Although the tablet is banned from sale in Germany, Samsung is currently selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a revised version of the tablet that, German courts say, do not violate Apple patents.