Google has steadily argues that Apple’s patent fight with Samsung isn’t about intellectual property, it’s about shutting down the competition. Apple’s injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was upheld in Australia today, and if other courts see this as precedent, that very well could happen. The patents in question are so far-reaching that, in Australia at least, the ruling could prevent any other Android tablets from being sold.
The conclusion comes from FOSS Patents is that the patents are “broad enough in scope that Google and its OEM partners can’t work around them without rendering their products less appealing, or even entirely unappealing, to consumers.” What’s even more disturbing is the idea that courts in Germany, the United States and elsewhere could take the Australian ruling as the go-ahead for similar cases in other countries, effectively shutting down Android tablets wherever Apple chooses to fight them.
It’s not all bad news. In the Netherlands Samsung has maneuvered around Apple’s last patent when it comes to the Galaxy S II, allowing them to sell the phone freely in the territory. But the Aussie patents cover “multipoint touchscreens” and “graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, methods that if successfully blocked make modern tablets almost impossible. Similar patents are under dispute in the American patent case, with none other than Steve Jobs listed as the inventor. In the United States Google, Verizon and T-Mobile have supported both Samsung and HTC in their defense against Apple, but the friend of the court filings may be too little, too late.
The opinions in the FOSS piece are just that, opinions. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Apple intends to keep its lead in the tablet market by hammering its competitors with the court systems. After all, they’re losing the market share battle to Android in the smartphone world already – why would they let it happen again for the iPad? Time will tell if the legal technique is a success, but suffice it to say, if you’re thinking about buying a Galaxy Tab 10.1, you might want to do it sooner rather than later.