Why has Germany blocked sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab?

Decisions in Dusseldorf

Now we know what Apple's suit was about, but what makes Germany so important? In early August 2011, a district court in Dusseldorf, Germany, granted a preliminary injunction for Apple, banning the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union. Samsung was completely blindsided by the injunction, arguing it had no knowledge of the filing and no opportunity to offer a defense before the court granted the injunction. Samsung immediately appealed, and the ban was lifted a few days later in all EU countries other than Germany [sources: Cheng, Lowensohn].

On Aug. 25, the Dusseldorf court held a hearing on the case. At the hearing, they decided to leave the injunction in place, pending a ruling scheduled for Sept. 9. The temporary injunction didn't just affect the Galaxy Tab 10.1 release. It also forced Samsung to pull previews of its Galaxy Tab 7.7 from the 2011 IFA consumer electronics conference in Berlin, the largest annual conference of its kind in the world. The conference was held Sept. 2 through Sept. 7 [sources: Skinner, Cheng, Whittaker].

Those representing Samsung argued that Apple's claims limited consumer choices in the tablet market. Henrik Timmann, one of Samsung's lawyers, said that the features Apple is claiming it owns are necessary for producing any high-quality tablet device. "Apple's design rights cannot force us to make technically poor products," Timmann said, invoking a point a Dutch judge made during an unrelated case between Samsung and Apple [source: Matussek].

When the Dusseldorf District Court returned on Sept. 9, 2011, it made the Galaxy Tab 10.1 injunction permanent unless a higher court changes the ruling. The ruling means that Samsung is barred from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a country with one of Europe's strongest economies. It also means that German retailers can't sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 anywhere in the EU. With this decision, it seemed that Apple would gain traction in the larger lawsuit and see the injunction extended across the entire EU. As of this writing, though, no other countries have banned sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

So far, we've seen what Apple's claiming and how the German court came to ban sales the Galaxy Tab. Let's close our story with a look at Samsung's ongoing defense against Apple worldwide and how this is could impact the global tablet market.