Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction by a German court barring distribution of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in almost the entire European Union, with only the Netherlands exempted, reports Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents. This proceeding is related to the IP rights granted to the design of Apple’s iPad. This is the latest victory for Apple in its legal battle alleging that the rival tablet infringes on its intellectual property rights. Updated with statements from Apple and Samsung below.

The injunction was granted by the District Court of Düsseldorf, Germany and specifies fines of up to $350,00 per violation and imprisonment of Samsung’s management if infringement continues. While the court resides in Germany, news agency DPA is reporting that the ban is effective across the European Union. Although a preliminary injunction like this one take immediate effect in Germany, a EU-wide one may require registration in other countries. An injunction like this one could be reversed by a hearing in the coming weeks, but some preliminary injunctions last the entire length of a patent infringement case, a process that could take over a year.

The Düsseldorf court where the injunction was granted has a reputation for being the German equivalent of the United States’ East Texas courts when it comes to fast-tracking patent infringement cases. The court is very friendly to patent infringement claims on behalf of the patent holder, so that may explain the speed of this preliminary injunction being granted. In addition, German patent law makes it much easier than U.S. patent law to get an injunction against a party infringing on a patent.

A fast-track injunction like this one doesn’t mean that a permanent injunction will be granted, but German courts require that the plaintiff can show that they are likely to win any subsequent patent trial before they will even institute a preliminary injunction.

Apple also has a separate proceeding underway against Samsung in the Netherlands, reports Mueller, asserting European Community utility model no. 00181607-0001, a design right granted to Apple for the iPad. Apparently, differences in the way that the Netherlands handles competition law caused the separate filing.

Apple previously moved to have an injunction placed on Samsung’s distribution of the Galaxy Tab in Australia, and subsequently, Samsung postponed its launch of the tablet in that country. A hearing is scheduled for August 29th in that case. Apple has also filed for a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s distribution of the Tab and other Galaxy products in the US, although it has yet to be granted.

Update: Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet has confirmed that Apple recieved the injunction.

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” Huguet stated. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Samsung has replied to us and issued the following statement:

Samsung is disappointed with the court’s decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world.

The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung.

We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world.

This decision by the court in Germany in no way influences other legal proceedings filed with the courts in Europe and elsewhere.

The intellectual property right that Apple is using to assert its claims:
Community Design 000181607-0001