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Apple's "iPad" Design Valid in EU
We should perhaps have spotted this earlier, but at long last Samsung's Apple invalidation application against Apple's tablet design RCD 000181607-0001 has been decided, as ICD 8539 of 5 July 2013, and is on the OHIM website.
Given that the Courts around the EU in the end found that the design had a narrow scope and was not infringed by Samsung's Galaxy tablets, the corollary should have been that the Apple design was valid over the numerous references cited - and so it was.
The decision itself is short, though the summary of prior art is long.  Here is the guts of it:

  • (98) The portable device is supposed to be easily handled, carried, held, placed in bags and easily transported, etc. The user uses the device as a whole, not only its screen, placed on a flat surface. Therefore, the informed user who is particularly observant does not take into consideration only the front part of the device, although this is the part of the product which allows it to function. When making a choice to purchase the product, the informed user also considers the casing and the overall shape, and s/he is able to differentiate between different products on the market. What matters is not only the functional part of the device, but also the shape and design of its body. The informed user is particularly attentive and there is no restriction to prevent him/her from direct comparison. The user is attentive to all differences between the designs.
  • (99) As has been said before, the essential features of the RCD are the substantially slim profile, the flat screen extending across the whole of the front of the device with the line of the casing forming a slim rim around the screen, the vertical sides and round transitions to the substantially flat back. Although these features, individually, may be part of the design corpus, in combination they result in the contested RCD differing from the submitted examples of the prior art.
Some other points of interest:
  1. A huge number of Samsung companies jointly applied.  The logic was, presumably, to ensure identity of parties wherever in the EU they were sued by Apple.
  2. "Market tendencies, or aesthetic or commercial considerations, are not regarded as restrictions to the freedom of the designer (see judgment of 22/06/2010, T-153/08, ‘Communication unit’, paragraph 58)".  There are some interesting issues around this at present.
Posted by: David Musker @ 16.35
Tags: Apple, Apple v Samsung tablet war, design freedom, individual character, invalidation, OHIM,
Perm-A-Link: https://www.marques.org/blogs/class99?XID=BHA483

MARQUES does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this blog. The views are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of MARQUES. Seek professional advice before action on any information included here.

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