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By | Bill Ray 17th November 2011 10:31

Galaxy Tab case tweaked to evade Germany ban

Will injunction-busting bezel work?

Samsung has tweaked the Galaxy Tab's casing and added an 'N' to the name to slip it past a sales ban in Germany, though it remains to be seen if the courts approve.

Samsung isn't allowed to sell the Tab 10.1 as a German court decided it infringes Apple's Community Design patent, and thus the products could be confused. So now Samsung has wrapped the bezel round the front, moved the speakers and put its tablet back onto the shelves to see how Apple (and the courts) react.

The German-language site All About Samsung has comparison shots (the new Tab 10.1N is the top one) and the untrained eye might struggle to see a difference. However, as patent-gazing Florian Mueller points out, Samsung produced prior art for the wrapped bezel design during the original hearing, so at the very least this means a return to court with associated costs.

Mueller also draws attention to the fact that the Community Design patent covers a combination of design elements that must all be copied by a rival before it is declared an infringing product. Therefore, Samsung doesn't have to change any specific elements, it only has to make sure the overall look and feel of the Tab is sufficiently different to bypass the injunction.

Whether the 10.1N meets that criteria is up to the German court. Mueller speculates that Samsung can modify the case as often as it likes until it finds a design that will slip though, but we're not convinced; changing a case, even in a small way, is an expensive process when one has to run up a separate production line. Samsung has deep pockets, but achieving even a minor modification in such a short time is impressive and expensive.

The tablet will, according to a German retailer, be delivered to customers within two weeks.

The 10.1N design will, no doubt, be in abeyance for the US market should Apple triumph there, one way or another Samsung is determined to have its tablet on the shelves, and under the trees, this Christmas. ®

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