Apple Asks Netherlands To Ban Huge Swath of Samsung Products

When Apple won its initial injunction request against Samsung ten days ago, it was noted that the company had a separate legal proceeding underway in the Netherlands that was aimed at a similar goal. New information suggests that Apple's requests in this case are much broader and aimed at disassembling Samsung's ability to sell products in Europe at virtually every level.

Apple's filing requests injunctive relief across Samsung's entire line of Galaxy products including the Galaxy Ace, S, and S II, the Galaxy Tab 7 and 10.1, and the Galaxy Gio, Nexus, 551, Europa, Apollo, and Mini. The Cupertino-based manufacturer also wants a much more comprehensive injunction than it won ten days ago. The initial injunction only covered product imports. Many resellers carried on business as usual, as phones that were already in-country or sitting on store shelves were fair to sell.

Apple's initial injunction focused on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung expressed surprise at the ruling, claiming that it had just worked out an arrangement with Apple to ship a non-infringing tablet in Australia.

This time around, Apple wants that loophole closed. The company wants the new injunction to cover every step of the
process, including manufacturing, distribution, importing, exporting, and stocking. If granted, the ruling would freeze Samsung products altogether. The company further demands that Samsung recall all infringing products from its European clients within 14 days and cover the cost of distribution + original product purchase price. European companies that fail to return Samsung's products will themselves be held in violation of Apple's property rights.

If Apple gets what it wants, the ruling will effectively destroy Samsung's ability to operate in Europe. The company has no alternative product lines that it can quickly bring to the EU to replace the banned devices and no guarantee that Apple wouldn't promptly sue over any new European products. If the company's resellers are forced to recall and end-of-life their current inventories, they aren't going to be willing to risk exposing themselves to another massive inventory problem.

This image, courtesy of webwereld, shows how Apple's filing distorts the Galaxy S's height to make the two appear more similar.

Samsung has defended itself in part by noting that the images Apple has used as evidence in several court hearings are doctored to make the allegedly infringing Samsung products look more like their Apple counterparts. Photo analysis shows that the aspect ratios on both the Galaxy Tab and the Samsung Galaxy S have been tweaked.

Unfortunately for the Korean manufacturer, the doctored photos aren't a slam-dunk. The German judge who issued the initial injunction didn't just examine photographic evidence, he physically handled and compared the two products. Furthermore, the substantive patents that form the backbone of Apple's lawsuit aren't based on the dimensions or aspect ratios of the devices in question. The judge in question can whack Apple for submitting bad evidence without needing to overturn the infringement ruling.

If Samsung is lucky, Apple's own hubris will work against it. Companies regularly request injunctions when litigating patents, even if actually getting one is still big news. Apple's Netherlands lawsuit goes a step beyond injunctive relief and stabs at Samsung's entire European distribution system in a manner that could mortally wound the company's entire European business. That's a much, much stronger request and it's likely the courts will err on the side of caution rather than handing the market to Apple via judicial fiat.