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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc scored a major victory in its multi-country patent infringement battle against Samsung Electronics after a German court barred the Korean company from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the entire European Union except the Netherlands.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet confirmed that a district court in Dusseldorf, Germany, granted the preliminary injunction.
This is the second big setback for Samsung, which has been locked in a battle with Apple over smartphones and tablets patents since April, and comes after it delayed the Australian launch of its latest Galaxy tablet because of similar lawsuits.
A Samsung U.S. spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
Apple said that Samsung's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets "slavishly" copied the iPhone and iPad. It has sued in the United States, Australia and elsewhere. Samsung has countersued Apple.
"This is an intellectual property right granted by an agency of the European Union," Florian Mueller, a technology specialist and blogger on patent battles, said on his blog FOSS Patents. "It can therefore be enforced on an EU-wide basis, while European patent law is still fragmented, requiring a different lawsuit in each country in which one seeks to enforce it."
Mueller said Apple has a separate lawsuit underway in the Netherlands as well.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has only been recently launched in Europe and is in the early stages of being rolled out.
Samsung is one of the fastest growing smartphone makers and has emerged as Apple's strongest competitor in the booming tablet market with models in three sizes but it remains a distant second in the space.
The patent battle has the potential to cripple Samsung, Brian White, analyst with Ticonderoga, said in a note to clients.
"Samsung is one of the few OEMs in the world with ability to enjoy success in both the smartphone and tablet markets," he said. "However, if Samsung is violating Apple's IP rights, we believe Apple could enjoy even further success in these markets in the coming years."
Galaxy products use Google's Android operating system, which directly competes with Apple's mobile software.
Reporting by Poornima Gupta. Editing by Robert MacMillan, Bernard Orr