In a rather interesting turn of events, South Korean giant Samsung Electronics has affirmed that it would drop its lawsuits seeking a sales ban on Apple's products in Europe. According to latest reports, Samsung said it will not make attempts to stop the sale of some Apple products in Germany, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands. Interestingly though, Samsung has made no mention of whether it would put an end to its court battle for compensation. Quoting the South Korean giant, reports state, “Samsung remains committed to licensing our technologies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, and we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court.”

Samsung rumoured to be launching a tablet with a QWERTY keyboard

Agrees to drop sales ban lawsuit against some Apple products in Europe

With this, the ongoing patent lawsuit between the two tech giants has taken an important turn. Also, this development comes just a day after a US judge rejected Apple's permanent injunction request against Samsung. Reportedly, Apple approached US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California in an attempt to have two pretrial sales bans against Samsung products – Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus phone. Further, Apple asked Koh to impose a permanent sales ban against 26 Samsung phones. In her latest ruling, Judge Koh ruled that Apple did not present enough evidence to prove that its patented features pushed consumer demand for the iPhone. She wrote, “The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple's patents. Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple. It does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions.”

Recently, a post on Foss Patents blog revealed that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a first Office action asserting that a crucial Apple multitouch patent is invalid. In fact, the decision comes for the second time within two months. It was in late October that a first Office action asserted that all the 20 claims of Apple's rubber-banding patent are invalid. 

The first Office action now in essence puts aside all the 20 claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touchscreen device, method and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”. Interestingly, the patent was also being referred to as the “Steve Jobs patent”. The post goes on to add, “Once again, a first Office action tentatively invalidating a patent comes shortly after an infringement finding against Samsung: in late October a preliminary ruling by an ITC judge deemed this patent valid and held Samsung to infringe it (as well as three other patents). The ITC staff supports the judge's initial determination.”

Interestingly, the patent in question had been in discussion sometime back, when it was brought up against Motorola. At the time, according to this post, Judge Posner asserted that major chunks of the patent were invalid and added that there was only some 'minor potential infringement on Motorola's part'. Apple, in fact, had been directed by Judge Posner to stop referring the '949 patent as “the [Steve] Jobs patent”. It has been known that the late Apple founder was the first of many inventors of this patent. Over 300 of his patents are design patents, but the '949 patent is the most famous one among his software patents. 

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