It's been two months since Germany dropped the ban hammer on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. A Germany court ruled that the tablet, manufactured by South Korea's Samsung was too similar to the Apple iPad in its minimalist design. The judge found Samsung to be in violation of Apple's design patents. This differed from Apple's other legal victories over Samsung -- an Australian ban and a Netherlands ban on Galaxy Tab sales -- which were due to technology, not design patents.
Since then Samsung has been rushing feverishly to modify the design in an effort to escape the German ban. It finally has a finished product in the form of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 "N".
The N variant will have a revamped frame (e.g. the lip around the touchscreen) and the speaker position will be changed. Samsung comments to Reuters, "We modified the model to reflect Apple's claims."
The move follows comments at the AsiaD conference by Samsung's Won-Pyo Hong, executive VP of product strategy. During his speech, Mr. Hong said his company was looking to modify its products to escape Apple's design and technology IP infringement claims in 2012.
Samsung had previously removed a GUI animation from its distribution of Google Android operating system in order to negate the ban in the Netherlands.
It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to satisfy Apple. Apple's lawyers have exerted in so many words the opinion that they should be the only company legally authorized to produce "minimalist" tablets (the word minimalist here is specifically taken from a German judge's summary of the Apple lawyer's more verbose claims). Thus it's unclear exactly how far Samsung and others will have to modify their products to escape bans in regions that side with Apple.
Samsung and Apple are currently trading blows in an international legal war. Samsung sells more smartphones than Apple, but Apple sells more tablets that Samsung. Both companies occupy the #1 and #2 spots in global sales in these crucial electronics markets.
Apple recently gained another piece of legal ammo, patenting swipe unlocking in the U.S. The company was fortunate that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office turned a blind eye to the multitude of prior art and decided to rubber stamp the patent, as it has done with other previous Apple patents, such as the controversial patent on multi-touch gestures.