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Why settle for the Netherlands?

October 2011 - Intellectual Property. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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The Hague District Court recently issued an interim injunction against the marketing and sale of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone. The interim injunction was issued at Apple’s request and covers the Netherlands and a number of other European countries.
Until 2006, patent holders could bring cases about European patents before the Dutch courts, even if the case concerned more than just the Dutch version of the European patent. The Dutch courts could also be asked to prohibit infringements of the European patent in other European countries by means of what is known as a cross-border injunction. In 2006, however, the EU Court put a stop to this practice. Now a Dutch district court has ruled that the EU Court’s judgment does not apply to interim injunctions.
Apple holds a European patent on mobile electronic photo management technology. The patent covers the Netherlands and a number of other countries (but not Denmark), and the technology is used in both the iPhone and the iPad. Apple also holds a number of other patents and registered designs to protect the iPhone and the iPad.
Apple believed that Samsung was infringing these patents and registered designs, among other things by marketing and selling its smartphones Galaxy S and Galaxy Ace and the handheld computer Galaxy Tab in the countries covered by Apple’s European patents. As a result, Apple applied for an interim injunction in the Netherlands against three Dutch companies and the Korean parent of the Samsung Group.
Interim injunctions excluded
Apple asked the Dutch court to bar the companies from marketing and selling Galaxy in all of the European countries covered by the European patents. The general rule, however, is that the courts of a European country can only prohibit infringing acts which take place in that country.
This principle was established by the EU Court in a judgment from 2006 on the provisions of the so-called Brussels 1 Regulation. However, the Brussels 1 Regulation does not apply to interim injunction proceedings, and the Dutch court therefore held that it could grant an interim injunction covering all of the countries requested by the patent holder.
But the Dutch court did not agree that Galaxy infringes all of Apple’s patents and registered designs. Accordingly, the interim injunction which was granted only covers acts which infringe the European patent on mobile electronic photo management technology and only Samsung’s smartphones.
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that a case is pending before the EU Court in which the EU Court will have to decide whether the rule against cross-border injunctions does apply to interim injunction proceedings after all; and

  • that, in Germany, Apple has obtained an interim injunction against the marketing and sale of some of the same Samsung products based on its registered designs, although this interim injunction only bars the products from being marketed and sold in Germany.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such
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