A couple months ago, in a post about Dolby's patent suit against Research in Motion, I pointed out that in patent litigation, Germany is the new Eastern District of Texas. Blame the U.S. Supreme Court. After the high court clamped down on injunctions in its 2006 eBay v. MercExchange ruling, patent plaintiffs began to ask overseas courts to bar allegedly infringing products. It's a smart litigation tactic: Injunctions are a patent defendant's worst nightmare.
Just ask Samsung. On Tuesday, Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents broke the news in the U.S. that a court in Dusseldorf, Germany granted Apple's preliminary injunction against Samsung's Galaxy tablet, which is a competitor of the Apple iPad. According to Mueller, the German court order immediately bars Samsung from distributing the Galaxy anywhere in the European Union except the Netherlands, where Apple has a separate case underway against Samsung. (An Apple spokesperson confirmed the injunction report to Reuters.) Mueller, who is a German resident, said that the German court system is friendlier to patent holders, who don't have to meet the same strict criteria as U.S. litigants in order to win an injunction.
Apple is, of course, also suing Samsung in the U.S. In a July 1 motion, Its lawyers at Morrison & Foerster asked San Jose federal judge Lucy Koh to enjoin the Galaxy. Judge Koh has set an October 13 hearing date on the motion; discovery is now underway on both sides. Apple counsel Michael Jacobs of MoFo declined to comment on the German court's injunction. I left a request for Samsung lead lawyer Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, but didn't hear back.
A week ago, Samsung delayed Galaxy's launch in Australia because of an Apple patent suit. If things keep going Apple's way, the Galaxy is going to be one very tiny star system.
(Reporting by Alison Frankel)