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Holy Crap

Wow. When the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung began last year, we thought it'd be just like most other such spats: a bit of legal back-and-forth, followed by a big-money settlement and everyone getting on with their lives.

Turns out, no so much. The spat has slowly become an almighty row, with Apple demanding Samsung products are removed from sale and Samsung hitting back by requesting advance prototypes of the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 to ensure they don't 'inadvertently' copy the design.

But so far, the effect on us consumers has been nil. Until now. For the Apple-Samsung dispute just got very real.

Earlier this week we told you that the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung's nifty new Android tablet, had been released in the UK. Well, if you want one, you'd better run to the shops, because a German court has just ordered the Tab removed from sale across Europe.

Yes, you read that right. We're not sure whether the order means shops have to stop selling the Tab right now, or if it just means Samsung can't ship any more to retailers. But either now or in a few days, you'll see the Tab 10.1 disappear from shop sales while the lawyers argue frantically about what's going on.

Apple told the court the Tab 10.1 copied elements of the iPad's design. A quick glance at the two suggests that's pretty clearly the case, and a judge cheerfully agreed.

Will it last? Unlikely. Samsung will probably end up being able to sell the Tab, but reach a settlement meaning they have to pay Apple for each one sold. How long such a settlement will take to eke out - and therefore how long the Tab will be away from shops - we just don't know.

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