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Galaxy Tabs don't copy Apple designs, Hague court finds

Samsung was handed a victory in a Dutch court this week, when a judge found that the company's Galaxy tablets do not infringe on an Apple-held design patent.

As reported by Reuters, a district court in The Hague examined whether the rounded edges on three of Samsung's Galaxy Tab devices infringed on Apple's patent, and found that they did not.

In a statement, a Samsung spokesman said the ruling "reaffirmed decisions made by courts in other countries that our Galaxy Tab products do not infringe Apple's registered design right."

"We continue to believe that Apple was not the first to design a tablet with a rectangular shape and rounded corners and that the origins of Apple's registered design features can be found in numerous examples of prior art," he continued. "Should Apple continue to make excessive legal claims based on such generic designs, innovation in the industry could be harmed and consumer choice unduly limited."

In the US, a California court found that Samsung infringed on Apple patents to the tune of $1.05 billion (£660 million). But the jury also found that Samsung's tablet did not infringe on Apple's iPad design patent.

The ruling comes about two months after Judge Peter Blok with the Hague District Court found that the Samsung devices do infringe on an Apple patent for navigating photos in a gallery. In August 2011, the same court imposed an EU-wide preliminary injunction against Samsung Galaxy smartphones; November's ruling converted that ruling into a permanent injunction. Samsung, however, got around the infringing "bounce back" photo gallery feature by using a "blue flash" instead.

Also last year, The Hague court found that Samsung cannot pursue a ban on the iPhone in the Netherlands as long as Apple is willing to negotiate with Samsung on a licensing deal.

The topic of licensing deals recently landed Samsung in hot water with EU officials. The European Commission last month accused Samsung of patent abuse in its dealings with Apple.

According to the commission, the patents in question cover standard-essential technology, and Samsung has an obligation to license them on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Instead, Samsung has sought injunctions against Apple products that incorporate Samsung's patented technology for a 3G UMTS standard rather than offer Cupertino fair licensing terms.

Joaquín Almunia, vice president of competition policy at the commission, said "intellectual property rights ... should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike."