The Düsseldorf district court confirmed design protection for the iPad manufactured by the US technology giant Apple and prohibited Samsung from selling its competing Galaxy Tablet in Germany by declaring that it infringes the iPad design registration. The Düsseldorf decision once again underlines the growing importance of design law, which, after having been comprehensively revised both in the EU and in Switzerland, offers a powerful alternative to classic patent law when it comes to the protection of technical products.
In its dispute with Samsung, Apple, who claimed that its rival’s Galaxy Tablet is an illegal copy of the iPad, achieved an important “preliminary win” for its own product. With its decision of 9 September 2011, the Düsseldorf district court confirmed the preliminary injunction issued in August 2011 and prohibited the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Germany. This decision earned and is still earning unusually intense media scrutiny. While some critical media voices are claiming that this has given Apple an unjustified monopoly to a banal tablet design, others interpret the Düsseldorf district court’s decision as a clear statement against design copycats.
Apple’s claim for preliminary injunction was based on a registered Community Design which Apple obtained for the iPad design with the Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) in 2004. With such a singular OHIM Design Registration a design can be protected in the entire European Union.