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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 banned in EU in fresh Apple patent twist

Mixed news for Samsung: while its redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1N can go on sale, its smaller Galaxy Tab 7.7 will see a sales ban in Germany extend to the entire EU.

Samsung Galaxy Tab CNET

A German court has ruled that an existing ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 that prevented the device from being sold in the country should be extended across the entire European Union -- although the larger Galaxy Tab 10.1N can remain on sale.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.7, the smaller version of the popular tablet, had been banned in Germany in September 2011. The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled today that the ban should be extended to all 27 European member states, on the grounds that the device infringes Apple-owned patents that date back to 2004.

The South Korea-based technology giant said it was "disappointed" with the court's ruling, and reiterated its position on protecting against its intellectual property rights, with methods "including legal action."

However, it's a different story for Apple's bid to seek a sales injunction against the larger, more popular Galaxy Tab 10.1N -- a revised version of its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was under scrutiny in several countries, including Germany, for allegedly copying the iPad's design.

The Dusseldorf court said today that the design changes were significant enough to differentiate the new tablet from the older version, and the original injunction that prevented the sale of the device in Germany should no longer apply.

This comes only a week after a U.K. victory for Samsung stemming from a ruling that the Galaxy tablets weren't "cool" enough to have infringed the iPad's design. Apple was consequently told to place an "advertisement" for Samsung on its U.K. Web site and in British newspapers informing the public that the company did not copy Apple's products, in a bid to counteract the negative press Samsung may have suffered.

The EU-wide sales ban could conflict with the U.K. ruling -- which covered three Galaxy Tab products, including the Galaxy Tab 7.7.

The rulings are based on preliminary injunction requests, and full trials yet to be held to gauge the full merits of each case.

Samsung said it "welcomes the court's ruling which confirms our position that the Galaxy Tab 10.1N does not infringe Apple's intellectual property and does not infringe laws against unfair competition," adding that Apple's "generic design patents" could see innovation and progress "restricted."

Apple did not respond for comment at the time of writing.

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