Apple gets sales ban on some Samsung Galaxy products in the Netherlands

Dutch court bans sale of Samsung products that infringe on an Apple patent on navigating images in a photo gallery

A Dutch court has banned sales of Samsung Electronics' Galaxy products that infringe on an Apple patent describing a way to scroll through a photo gallery using a touchscreen. 

The ban only applies to Galaxy products that run Android 2.2.1 and higher that don't use Samsung's proprietary photo gallery software, the Court of The Hague ruled on Wednesday.

Apple patented a way to scroll past the edge of a zoomed-in photo and see a glimpse of the next in a series of images, after which the initial photo bounces back onto the screen, a technique that Samsung has used in its Galaxy products. Samsung's proprietary photo gallery software replaces that bounce-back feature with a "blue flash" that illuminates the edge of the image.

Samsung already lost a case over the same patent after preliminary proceedings in the Netherlands last year, leading to a sales ban on the then-infringing Galaxy S, SII and Ace. After the verdict, Samsung adjusted its photo gallery software as a work around, and said it stopped delivering infringing products to clients as of the end of August 2011.

During the plea hearing in September, Samsung said that, since the last verdict, it uses its own technology in all its products in the Netherlands. Samsung, however failed to provide the court with evidence of the change, annoying the panel of judges.

"The argument raised by Samsung at the hearing that Samsung Benelux does not sell the infringing products any more, cannot lead to a rejection of the ban," wrote judge Peter Blok, who presided over the panel of three judges in the verdict. Blok said he would grant the ban because Samsung refused to sign a declaration of abstinence committing to not infringing the patent.

The court ordered Samsung to tell Apple how much net profit it made from sales of infringing Galaxy products since June 27, 2011. A separate court procedure will determine how much of that profit Samsung must pay Apple.

If Samsung continues to infringe on the patent, it has to pay Apple a penalty of ¬100,000 (US$129,000) for every day it violates the ban, the court ruled.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company was disappointed with the court's ruling. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The Court of The Hague recently ruled that Samsung does not infringe on an Apple multitouch patent in another Dutch lawsuit between the companies. In January, the court is set to rule in yet another case between the two in a case about tablet design rights.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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