Hidden Dagger: Apple's Samsung Injunction Reveals Similar Motorola Request

According to Samsung, Apple's request to the EU for an injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 caught it completely by surprise. If that's true, Motorola may be in for a shock as well. Buried within Apple's injunction request is a reference to a similar request related to Motorola's Xoom. Apple and Motorola are currently engaged in their own nasty patent lawsuit in the US, but the Cupertino company's decision to open a European front passed under the radar.

As FOSS Patents points out, Apple's decision to delay filing its injunction request could work against the company. German lawyers, according to the site, generally recommend that preliminary injunction requests be filed within 30 days of determining that an infringement may exist. The Xoom, of course, has been on the US market for months. Even if Apple is able to date its infringement claim beginning from the Xoom's European launch, the tablet hit store shelves in Denmark and Sweden back in early June.

There's no evidence to suggest that Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple are colluding to attack Android and the handset/tablet manufacturers that use it, but plain old human nature and a willingness to pounce upon what's seen as injured prey are plenty. Motorola's latest sales figures are proof enough that the Xoom is no threat to the iPad--at least, not in its present incarnation--but Apple is plainly determined to fight any company it believes has somehow benefited from the iPad's success.

It's not clear, however, just how far courts on either side of the pond are going to allow Apple to stretch the concept of infringement. The iPad 2's minimalism is distinctive, but "minimalism" is not, in and of itself, a protected design feature. There's an exceptionally fine line between what Apple deems a slavish copy and granting the company an overbroad patent that restricted how its competitors could design their products.

Thus far, one of the hallmarks of the Great Android Dogpile is the different strategies the major plaintiffs (Apple, Oracle, Microsoft) are pursuing. As the only device manufacturer with a stake in the fight, Apple is taking the most aggressive stance to prevent what it sees as infringement on virtually every street corner.