Apple achieved a quasi-victory today in the ongoing intellectual property battles with Samsung when an appeals court in Dusseldorf, Germany upheld Apple's requested preliminary ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The court's decision also covers the Galaxy Tab 8.9, but not the Galaxy Tab 10.1N -- the version of the tablet that Samsung tweaked slightly to get around its similarity to the iPad. A decision on the 10.1N is expected on February 9, 2012.
Why is this a partial victory for Apple? Well, the ban was upheld not on Apple's design rights, but a breach of German unfair competition laws. That weakens Apple's assertion that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 models blatantly copied iPad design features. In addition, this verdict is limited to Germany alone and does not apply to other European Union member states.
The Netherlands rejected a previous ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 just last week, and if the 10.1N and other lightly-modified tablets remain on the market, it indicates that competitors don't have to make a lot of modifications to iPad copies for them to stay on the market.
However, all is not lost for Apple. Samsung is losing its claims on 3G patents in Germany, and was also recently the target of an EU investigation regarding alleged abuse of those patents. This is the year that many of the worldwide patent lawsuits that Apple and Samsung are embroiled in should reach resolution in the courts.