Apple Loses Patent Infringement Lawsuit to Spanish Tablet Maker

By Joseph Mandour on November 7, 2011

ipad-iphone-200x131 Orange County – Apple, makers of the iPad, recently lost a patent infringement lawsuit against a Spanish tablet maker. Apple had initially alleged in the action that Spanish tablet manufacturer Nueva Technologies (NT-K) infringed a design patent held by Apple for the Apple iPad. Apple sought an injunction barring sales of the NT-K tablet in Spain. Apple was initially successful and was granted a preliminary injunction by the Spanish court. However, the injunction was recently vacated based on a finding that there were not sufficient grounds to issue an injunction preventing sale of the tablet.

This case involved a design patent as opposed to a utility patent. Typically design patents cover the aesthetic and non-functional aspects of the article. A functional element of an invention is typically covered under a utility patent. In this case, Apple claimed that its design patent was enforceable based upon the iPad’s flat-surfaced, rounded-corner rectangle design. Apple also claimed that the NT-K tablet was aesthetically similar in the manner in which apps or icons were displayed on the tablet.

NT-K, based in Eastern Spain’s Valencia region, manufactures the tablet in China and had attempted to sell its Pad A91 throughout Spain. The Pad A91 runs a Spanish language edition of Google’s Android Operating System. Android is also used by Samsung to run its Galaxy Tablets, tablets which have recently faced intense international litigation with competitor Apple. Apple and Samsung are currently awaiting results in several international court battles.

The Nueva Technologies (NT-K) tablet has sold a mere 200 units in Spain in 2011. In contrast, the iPad has sold nearly 40 million units internationally and is expected to comprise 80% of the tablet computer market in the coming months. NT-K blames Apple for its poor sales and intends to file an action against Apple requesting damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement