Apple has been handed its fair share of defeats in court with regards to its patent lawsuits against various Android handset/tablet manufacturers. However, Apple’s fortunes in the U.S. court system have taken on a decidedly more positive note this week.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Apple scored a pre-trial injunction on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S. courtesy of Judge Lucy Koh in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Koh ruled that Samsung infringed on key Apple design patents, and admonished the company, stating:
Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly by flooding the market with infringing products. While Samsung will certainly suffer lost sales from the issuance of an injunction, the hardship to Apple of having to directly compete with Samsung’s infringing products outweighs Samsung’s harm in light of the previous findings by the Court.
Given that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is an older tablet that hasn’t seen much sales success in the United States to begin with, the ban isn’t much of a hindrance to Samsung. In addition, its follow-up — the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 — isn’t affected to the sales ban.
However, a ruling that was handed down late Friday is a much more serious threat to Samsung’s fortunes in the U.S.
I. Apple Scores its Second Victory This Week, Galaxy Nexus Ban Granted
On Friday, Judge Koh dealt Samsung its second blow for the week in the form of a pre-trial injunction against the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The Galaxy Nexus was introduced late last year as the poster child for Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
As she did earlier in the week with regards to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban, Judge Koh once again pointed out that Apple was clearly wronged by Samsung’s infringements. “Apple has made a clear showing that, in the absence of a preliminary injunction, it is likely to lose substantial market share in the smartphone market and to lose substantial downstream sales of future smartphone purchases and tag-along products,” stated Judge Koh in her Friday ruling.
The pre-trial injunction will go into effect as soon as Apple pays a $95 million bond to enforce the ban.
II. Patents, Patents, and More Patents.
The original motion filed by Apple indicated that Samsung’s infringed upon the following patents:
U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 — Describes a method for retrieving user information from a “variety of locations” from a single interface
U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721 — This is Apple’s infamous “Slide to Unlock” patent
U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647 — Details detection methods that create functional links from actionable data items like phone numbers, dates, email addresses, or web pages.
U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172 — Describes touch screen input methods along with display of current character strings or word suggestions as users “type” on the screen
According to Dan Levine, reporting for Reuters, the Galaxy Nexus ban was granted based on infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604.
III. Apple, Google Respond
There’s no question that Apple is delighted with this recent turn of events, having scored two legal victories against Samsung this week. However, the company only issued its standard canned response to Friday’s ruling:
It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging. This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.
The four patents being used against Samsung in the case against the Galaxy Nexus revolve around design implementation in Google’s Android operating system. For its part, Google issued this response to the ruling:
We’re disappointed with this decision, but we believe the correct result will be reached as more evidence comes to light.
Samsung has yet to respond, but we have the feeling that they will go straight for an appeal as they did with the pre-trial injunction handed down against the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
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