A Hague court ruled on Wednesday that the design of Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet PCs does not infringe rival Apple's patent. The main issue was Apple's rounded rectangular body design.
The ruling could ramify since Apple has accused the Korean electronics giant in other countries of copying that design.
In June 2011, Apple filed an injunction against Samsung in the Netherlands seeking a ban on the sale of the Korean electronics giant’s tablet PCs, but it was rejected.
Emboldened by that ruling, Samsung filed a suit against Apple questioning the validity of its accusations, and the court sided with Samsung in Wednesday's ruling. European courts apparently often handle not only patent-infringement claims but also lawsuits seeking confirmation that a company's products did not infringe any patents.
The models in question are the Galaxy Tab 7.7, Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, which were sold until early last year. In the second half of last year, Samsung also filed a lawsuit against Apple in a U.K. court questioning the validity of its accusations against the Galaxy Tab and won.
Samsung welcomed the ruling. "We oppose actions that do not benefit consumers or impede the development of the industry by making unreasonable claims about general design attributes," a company spokesman said.
The two rivals are locked in around 30 legal disputes in nine countries, including the U.S. and Japan. A U.S. jury in August of last year found that certain Samsung smartphones and tablet PCs copied Apple's design, including black front surface, edges and composition of icons.