By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung's attempt to block the sale of the iPhone 4S in Italy has failed. A judge in Milan ruled that Italy won’t block the latest Apple device from stores in the European nation.
On Oct. 5th last year, the Korean firm filed a preliminary injunction requesting the court block sales of the iPhone 4S. The ruling from Italy is ``very disappointing’’ for Samsung, the company said.
The Italian court’s decision marks the third straight loss for Samsung in its effort to curb Apple handset sales in Europe, and follows similar decisions by France’s Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris in December 2011 and Dutch court Rechtbank’s-Gravenhage’s ruling in October, said Samsung.
Similar efforts are ongoing in Japan and Australia.
``Neither Samsung nor Apple has struck a meaningful victory for `the fight in preliminary injunctions.’ Both Samsung and Apple just took some strategies from either side. Basically, the firm has wasted time and energy,’’ said a Samsung official.
Apple won its bid to block the sale of Samsung devices in Germany, Australia and the Netherlands from its preliminary injunction requests.
However, Apple’s requests were rejected in an appeals court, having a minor impact on the Korean company.
In the most critical market of the United States, Apple’s bid for a preliminary injunction against four Samsung products failed last month, sending it to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ordered Apple to amend its claim, though details haven’t been released.
``Chances are currently low that Samsung will win its separate bid to block the sale of iPhone 4S in Japan, which is pending. We will focus on regular proceedings,’’ said the Samsung official.
The two firms have targeted short-term wins to disrupt each other’s key businesses. So far, the plan has been ineffective and it’s clear that in order to keep with this line of patent litigation, a regular comprehensive proceeding should take place, meaning it’s unlikely the legal tussle will be resolved anytime soon.
``Both Apple and Samsung were trying to rush things in order to score some quick wins of rulings with a profound disruptive impact on each other's business. This didn’t work,’’ said Florian Mueller, a German-based patent expert who runs the FossPatent blog.
``They’re both going to have to focus on regular, full-blown proceedings rather than the fast-track proceedings triggered by requests for preliminary injunctions. It can be frustrating to see how long litigation, especially patent litigation, takes. But that’s part of life.’’
Samsung agreed with Mueller’s claim saying, ``Samsung is focusing on regular proceedings in Germany, which will occur on January 20th and January 27th, with keen eyes.’’
Rulings from regular proceedings are critical. If either firm is victorious, then the loser should immediately recall their products from local outlets and pay huge amounts in compensation over patent infringements.
Several courts virtually sided with Samsung after they asked Apple to clarify its years-long passiveness for FRAND licensing fees to the Korean firm.
Apple initially took Samsung to court in April last year, claiming that the Korean company ``slavishly copied’’ the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad.
Despite the legal battle, Samsung became the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer in the third quarter of last year and is planning to expand the market gap with Apple further. It is looking to surpass Nokia sometime early next year to become the world’s biggest handset maker.