Apple loses U.S. injunction request against Samsung

By Lee Kaelin on

Apple and Samsung had their latest legal encounter in a San Jose, Ca. court at the end of last week. In April, Apple sued Samsung for "copying the look and feel" of its iPhone and iPad in its Galaxy range of phones and tablets. The Cupertino-based firm then expanded the suit to include another 13 models, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Nexus S and Droid Charge. The full trial is set to start on July 30, 2012 but Apple was pushing for a temporary sales injunction on the contested Samsung devices in the U.S. as that date arrived.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh refused Apple's request, however, stating it was an "extraordinary remedy." In making her decision she said she was unconvinced Apple would suffer irreparable harm should Samsung continue sales pending the court case. She continued, "given the evidence Samsung presented, it seems likely that a major beneficiary of an injunction would be other smartphone manufacturers."

Statements of support from U.S. carriers T-Mobile and Verizon did nothing to sway the Judge's decision, who said that should the South Korean technology giant be "infringing upon Apple's patents, it is no more acceptable for third parties to benefit from Samsung's unlawful actions than it is for Samsung itself to benefit."

Judge Koh did comment that she suspected Samsung could have infringed Apple's patents, but it was now the burden of the iPhone and iPad maker to prove the validity of the patents it is contesting.  "A size that can be handheld, a screen that encompasses a large portion of the front face of the smartphone, and a speaker on the upper portion of the front face of the product," are more functional features that make sense, which are not necessarily aesthetic features and therefore would be legally allowable according to Koh.

Should Samsung lose in court next year, it could likely still sidestep the ruling by redesigning the contested devices much like it is attempting to do in Germany in order to elude a sales ban there.

On a related note, last week the Australian High Court of Appeals voted unanimously to overturn the injunction put in place by Justice Bennett preventing the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in that country. Apple was nevertheless able extend the injunction for a further seven days as it prepares its appeal.

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