FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics lost a bid to overturn a ruling barring its local unit from selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablets in Germany, handing a symbolic legal victory to Apple Inc in efforts to keep its lead spot in the tablet computer market.
A higher regional court in Duesseldorf, Germany, said on Tuesday that Samsung may not sell the older version of its Galaxy tablet in Europe's biggest economy.
Apple is fighting several rival makers of smartphones and tablet PCs in courts worldwide over intellectual property.
Its battle with Samsung, whose tablets are based on Google Inc's Android software, has been especially bitter, with the Galaxy range of devices seen as among the biggest challengers to Apple's mobile products.
Apple has claimed the Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets "slavishly" copied the iPhone and iPad and has sued the Korean company in the United States, Australia, Japan and Korea as well as in Europe.
In September, Apple won a temporary injunction barring Samsung Germany from selling the Galaxy 10.1 tablet in most of Europe, as the court found the overall design of the tablet was too similar to Apple's iPad.
Since then, several countries including the Netherlands, the United States and Australia have decided to allow Samsung to sell the Galaxy tablet.
Samsung, which is Apple's supplier as well as a competitor, has been trying to have the German decision overturned while also seeking other means to fight Apple.
It redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market only and named it Galaxy Tab 10.1N to get around the sales ban.
Apple challenged the reworked version but a German court last month rejected Apple's claims in a preliminary judgment. A final ruling in that cases is expected on February 9.
Samsung also counter-sued Apple in Germany, claiming infringements of mobile technology patents. A court in Mannheim has ruled against Samsung in cases concerning two of the patents and is due to decide on a third on March 2.
Matthias Inverardi; Writing by Maria Sheahan and Ludwig Burger