Is Apple's case against Samsung based on shaky evidence?

A Dutch publication accuses Apple of misrepresenting the size and dimensions of Samsung's Galaxy Tab in a court document to make it more closely resemble the iPad.

Photos of the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab in an Apple court document.
Photos of the iPad 2 (left) and Galaxy Tab in an Apple court document. Scribd

A Dutch publication is accusing Apple of providing incorrect evidence in a patent case against Samsung to make the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet appear closer in size and shape to the iPad 2.

The IDG publication Webwereld.nl (English translation) published its findings yesterday.

Examining pictures found in a document that Apple recently submitted to a German court, Webwereld.nl found one of the photos of the Tab to be inaccurate. Photos on page 28 of the document show the Tab and iPad 2 as "practically identical" in appearance.

But according to the Dutch publication, the Tab image in the document does not match the real Galaxy Tab, which is "longer and more oblong than the iPad 2." Specifically, the actual Tab has an aspect ratio of 1.46, Webwereld.nl said. The image of the Tab created by Apple shows an aspect ratio of 1.36, closer to the iPad's ratio of 1.30, according to Webwereld.nl.

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Whether the alleged inaccuracy is intentional or accidental, it throws into question at least some of the evidence on which a German court based a recent decision.

Apple has been embroiled in a patent suit against Samsung, alleging that the Galaxy Tab 10.1, an Android OS device, has illegally taken technology from the iPad. As part of the suit, Apple succeeded last week in convincing a German court to issue a temporary injunction banning the sale of the Tab in virtually all nations of the European Union.

Arnout Groen, an intellectual property rights attorney at Klos Morel Vos & Schaap, was quoted by Webwereld.nl as saying that the inaccurate Tab photo is a "blunder" and a mistake that "can hardly be a coincidence." He added that it's up to the court's discretion on how to deal with this "faux" but that a reprimand or swipe by the court seems in order.

Florian Muller, a consultant in intellectual property cases and publisher of the Foss Patents blog site, doesn't believe the intent was malicious on the part of Apple and its lawyers and believes the Tab image may have come from a pre-release prototype of the tablet used in a prior lawsuit, according to Webwereld.nl. However, Muller does feel the inaccurate image could have serious implications for the case moving forward.

Samsung and Apple head back to court in Germany on August 25 to present their own respective arguments over whether the ban against the Tab should remain in place.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Samsung said it declined to comment at this time.

Update 8:00 a.m. PT: The German court has lifted the ban against the Galaxy Tab in all EU countries except Germany, finding that the court does not have jurisdiction over countries outside its own. Samsung is now free to resume sales of the Tab, at least until the August 25 hearing, at which time a more permanent ruling may be reached.

Editors' note: The story was earlier updated with Samsung's response.

 

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