Dutch court slams brakes on Samsung Android phone sales in Europe

A Dutch court Tuesday issued a European Union-wide injunction ordering the immediate halt of sales for Samsung's Android-based Galaxy smartphones.

As reported by tech patent expert Florian Mueller on his FOSS Patents blog, the injunction will at least temporarily bar the sales of Samsung's Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones for allegedly infringing on certain Apple patents. The injunction, which does not apparently impact Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Tab tablets, is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 13.

In an ominous development for Google, Mueller says that the injunction represents "the first enforceable software patent court decision worldwide against Android devices" because one of the patents in question is likely infringed by "one or more of the applications that ship with Android and without which the usefulness of Android would be impaired." And to make things worse, Mueller claims on his Twitter feed that Google's recent purchase of Motorola and its extensive portfolio of 17,000 patents won't be of much help to Google in this particular case.

BACKGROUND: Google lashes out at patent trolls with Motorola buy

Google CEO Larry Page said last week that one big factor in Google's decision to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion was its ability to help fight off patent suits against Android vendors and to "increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio." Google's Motorola announcement came less than two weeks after the company publicly lashed out at Microsoft, Apple and Oracle for allegedly waging "a hostile, organized campaign against Android ... waged through bogus patents." Google also tried to bolster its patent portfolio by aggressively bidding to purchase major patents formerly owned by Nortel, although the company's efforts failed when Nortel awarded the patents to a consortium of companies that included Google rivals Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion.

Both Apple and Microsoft have been very aggressive in recent years in pressing patent claims against vendors who sell devices based on Google's Android operating system, which has been ostensibly free to use for device makers since its debut in 2007. The most recent big development in the Android patent saga came last month when a judge at the International Trade Commission ruled that HTC's Android-based smartphones had key features that infringed upon two Apple patents. If the ruling is made final later this year, it means that HTC could be barred from importing its Android phones into the U.S. Microsoft has also successfully sued some Android manufacturers such as HTC and is generating an estimated $5 in extra revenue every time HTC ships an Android-based device, according to a report by Citi analyst Walter Pritchard.

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