Apple loses iPad design lawsuit against small Spanish tablet computer maker NT-K

“Talk about David defeating Goliath: a small Spanish tablet computer maker named Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Cataláfrom the Valencia region has successfully defended its Android-based tablet computers (marketed under the label N-TK) in court and is now seeking damages from Apple for a temporary seizure of its products by Spanish customs,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents. “Furthermore, the Spaniards are pursuing an antitrust complaint against Apple, alleging abusive anticompetitive behavior.”

“Apparently, Apple accused N-TK in November 2010 of “copying” the iPad and went straight for a customs ban. As a result, Spanish customs seized shipments from China containing N-TK’s Android-based tablet. The little company temporarily appeared on an EU-wide list of product pirates, but worst of all, after some correspondence between the two companies, Apple also brought criminal charges on December 9, 2010 (as it had previously threatened in writing),” Mueller writes. “Considering that this was not a case of product piracy but just a dispute over whether or not Apple has exclusive design rights covering N-TK’s Andoid-based products, I think it’s absolutely outrageous that Apple tried to attack its rival under criminal law. Having a commercial dispute is one thing, but going down the criminal law avenue is totally unreasonable.”

Mueller writes, “Now N-TK is suing Apple for compensation for monetary damages, lost profits, and also for ‘moral damages.’ I think Apple should use better judgment in the future. This story from Spain makes Apple look very bad.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Based on the info at hand, we have to agree with Mueller. Apple should use the avenues of justice as judiciously as possible lest the PR harm outweigh the benefits of legal actions. That said, any product that infringes on Apple’s patented IP and/or trade dress should be taken to court (via commercial, not criminal, actions) if all other avenues of remedy fail.

Lastly, NT-K’s 7-inch piece of crap “Pad A91” certainly looks, uh… “inspired” by Apple’s iPad and looks like a possible case of trade dress infringement, at least, if a case was adjudicated in the U.S.A.

NT-K PAD A91

23 Comments

  1. Enough with these subjective design suits. I suspect there are many other more clear cut IP issues to pursue (if not, there should be if Apple protected themselves properly). Why doesn’t Apple start using those 200 iPhone patents we were all so excited about? Is this best they can come up with?

  2. Apple should defend its IP using all available means and regardless of the size of the defendant. Regarding the means, how is the fact that Spanish customs abused their authority by seizing N-TK’s property make Apple liable for damages? Is Apple the Spanish government? As far as the criminal charges, it probably wasn’t the classiest move, but again, why is this even an option under Spanish law?

    Fix your laws and prevent companies from abusing them. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if all the weapons available to them are brought to bear.

    1. … defend its IP using all available means. I look at the image above and I see a product that resembles … a black tablet computer. I know immediately it is not an iOS device, due to the icons represented.
      I think Apple over-stepped its need to defend its IP and trampled on N-TK’s right to pursue legitimate business interests. Which is NOT their usual MO. But worthy of a (monetary) apology, regardless.

  3. Ryszard,
    Most excellent reminder. And when people complain that Apple is being too strong in its,,,, you copied us…. complaints, this helps us remember that there are other designs, these guys copies Apple just so it would sell. PERIOD.

    But I would go easy on small companies, its the big fish like Samsung and HTC that are selling millions… ok thousands of systems that try to coast on the design and basic operation.

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