The Round Tablet

The lawyers seem to have been pretty cute in the Apple Samsung case which saw Samsung’s 10 inch Android-based Tablet banned from Europe (except Holland).

According to Florian Mueller at Foss Patents, Apple’s lawyers did not base their case on the infringement of hardware or software patents, but on the infringement of a ‘design-related intellectual property right.’

This design-related property right is an EU construct under which a product can be registered in the Community Designs Register. Apple’s iPad has such a registration certificate – No. 003781832.


All that the Dusseldorf court apparently did, before banning Samsung’s tablet, was to look at photos of the Galaxy Tab and decide it looked very like the iPad. That fact, and the presentation of the Certificate of  Registration for Community Design, were sufficient to warrant the order forbidding the sale of the tablet throughout Europe.


Samsung did not even have to be notified that the case was being considered. Nor did it get such notice.


This is a fairly stunning situation for Apple to be in. There aren’t too many ways to design the look of a ten inch tablet. Whichever way you do it, it’s going to look a lot like an iPad.


Does this mean that no one can sell a 10 inch tablet in Europe?


Well there’s a hole in the market for a round one.


Maybe Exxon should resign itself to being the world’s second largest company for rather a long time.



  1. ‘Tuit’ Keith? The only definition I can find for it is a ‘wooden nickel’.

  2. I need a round tuit more than a round tablet!

  3. Trapezoidal !
    This will allow me to lay a tablet flat on the table and the magic of perspective will make it look rectangular (if I pump my office chair to the correct elevation !).
    The only problem is how to describe the size to make it sound bigger (a rectangular table of the same area will have a bigger diagonal measurement, and that will never do)

  4. For me, I think rhomboid would do it, Lefty.

  5. what about an 11 inch one?

  6. Thanks for that, Pitchfork, you’ve just solved the legal problems of Samsung, Motorola and all the other 10 inch tablet makers. I hope you’ll send them an appropriate invoice.

  7. A round tablet?
    Not such a bad idea, back in the 70s a company in Alton (Hants) manufactured round VDUs!

  8. Yes indeed, Lefty, it’s a pity it’s all come down to this.

  9. the cash reserves of apple allow it to play with the law as it wishes.
    you will not get any complaints from the lawyers on either side of the argument trousering their fees.

  10. I know, it’s really weird, Terry, but I suppose if you’re first out with a new product type you can do all sorts of outlandish things to try and protect it legally. In this case, Apple seems to have been even more outlandish than usual.

  11. They’re also trying to get an injunction to ban sales of the Motorola Xoom!
    The message seems to be the competing with Apple is illegal.

  12. ‘Something needs to be done…’
    Copyright is already being sorted out; notably the absurdity that you can’t copy your own CDs onto a hard-drive.
    With regard to patents, I don’t think you’re considering the entire story though, are you? In order to file a patent, regardless of whether or not the patent is granted, the inventor must disclose their invention, and precisely how any skilled person could put it into effect.
    This means that the back-catalogue of published patent applications is humanity’s greatest store of information about incremental improvements in technology, and one that would not exist were the ‘interest’ represented by the grant of a time-limited monopoly not present; inventors would keep their discoveries secret.It’s probably in the interest of society to encourage innovators to make that information public somehow!

  13. The Netherlands already has “weed tourism” from neighbouring countries so I guess it can now expect tablet tourism. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

  14. You’re right again, Mr C, their relevance is usually dated, their utiliity frequently over-rated and their value invariably over-stated.

  15. I guess that the next writ will be Daimler Benz protecting their ‘design-related intellectual property right.’ for cars.
    Someone or something needs to be done about patents and copyrights it’s getting totally out of hand?
    I of course blame the accountants again :0)

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