Apple vs. Samsung

In a lawsuit between Apple Inc. USA against the German company Samsung Electronics GmbH and the South Korean company Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the OLG Düsseldorf on January 31, 2012 (re 120 U 175/11 and 120 U 126/11) recently ruled that Samsung could not sell either the "Galaxy Tab 10.1" tablet or "Galaxy Tab 8.9" in Germany.


Apple based its demand on a registered design for its iPad and a violation of the Act on Unfair Competition. The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court rejected a registered design violation because the design of Samsung's tablet was differentiated from Apple's iPad in its fundamental characteristics.

Nevertheless, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court based its injunction against Samsung on the Act on Unfair Competition. Samsung had engaged in unfair conduct vis-á-vis Apple because Samsung has unfairly exploited with its tablet the prominent appearance and prestige value of the Pad. Accordingly, there was a case of misappropriation pursuant to §4 no. 9b UWG.

The decision of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court is legally binding.


The law against unfair competition is very finely differentiated in Germany. The judgment of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court can rightly be regarded as an individual decision. To the extent that the competitor is sufficiently clearly differentiated from the iPad, competing products are without more permissible.

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