Apple's EU design registration on the iPad hasn't turned into quite the international weapon we expected after Cupertino's lawyers used it to stop the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany: a Dutch court declined to issue a similar ban on the Tab, and now Apple's running into problems in Spain, where it just lost a design lawsuit against tiny tablet maker NT-K.

The overall case history is actually kind of insane, with Apple even filing criminal charges against NT-K at one point, but what's particularly interesting is that Apple's claim appears to have been a serious overreach from the get-go: the legal standard in the EU is that products don't infringe design rights if they "produce on the informed user a different overall impression" than the registered design, and NT-K's tablet (shown above) doesn't look anything like the iPad. In particular, the NT-K tablet is far thicker than the iPad, with a chunky ports area on the left side, and the entire back looks different as well. Compare that to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which hews much closer to the overall iPad design aesthetic, and you can see that Apple's pushing the boundaries of what is and isn't covered by its various design and patent registrations — the real question is if more companies like NT-K will fight back.