Another week is passing by, and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has seen its hopes in yet another anti-Android court trial slip through its fingers. Last week saw Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge who moonlighted in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois(Chicago), toss Apple and Motorola Mobility’s (a Google Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary) suits/countersuits out of court.
I. No Ban For You
Now across the country, his peer Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco) Judge Lucy Koh has ruled on a crucial decision in Apple’s legal war with Android — whether to put in place a ban that would spoil perhaps Android’s biggest summer blockbuster launch — the Samsung Galaxy S III.
The news was not what Apple was hoping for.
After hearing arguments from top Android smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and Apple’s legal teams, Judge Koh announced that she would not rule on whether to grant a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy S III ahead of its June 21 launch.
The Samsung Galaxy S III
The ruling is a blow to Apple. Apple earlier this week announced iOS 6, which disappointed some in lacking the major graphical overhaul/refreshing that Google and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have delivered in their recent builds. Aside from its increasingly dated UI, Apple has not yet announced when it will ship its next generation iPhone. The general expectation is that it will see a July launch.
That would place it roughly a month behind Samsung’s flagship model in the U.S. market. Apple was hoping to eliminate Samsung’s head start with a court-enforced injunction, but its lawyers’ pleas fell on deaf ears.
II. Apple Faces Vanishing Hopes of Worthwhile Victory
Google spokesman Jim Prosser complained in a statement to Reuters that “vague” patents by Apple and others are creating a legal mess in the smartphone industry. Kristin Huguet, spokeswoman for Apple, reiterated her complaint that Android phonemakers were guilty of “blatant” copying.
But Brian Love, a professor at Stanford Law School, says that ultimately Google is winning by not losing, while Apple is losing by seeing its cases bog down to a sluggish crawl through the court system. He comments, “The stalemate is much more of a victory for the accused infringers than it is for Apple.”
Paul Berghoff, a seasoned Chicago-based patent attorney with McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff (not involved in the case), echoes, “If Apple’s goal still is the Steve Jobs holy war, then the status quo is not in their benefit.”
Even Apple’s own attorney, Josh Krevitt, sounded frustrated in a hearing last week, remarking, “Samsung is always one step ahead, launching another product and another product.”
Google has been a mean machine, trashing foes in court. [Image Source: ZuperDZigh]
Increasingly, Apple is looking like Wile E. Coyote to Samsung’s Roadrunner, constantly seeing its competitor escape its sluggish legal deathtraps. That’s a disturbing trend for a company whose late co-founder ordered it to spend every penny it had to “destroy” Android in “thermonuclear war.”
Apple is increasingly looking like it may be doomed to follow in the line of Oracle Corp. (ORCL), who at one point hoped to squeeze $6B USD from Google on claims of Java infringement in Android. At the end of the day, a pair of court victories in a jury trial absolved Google of most infringement claims, while finding it guilt of only a handful of infringements, which will likely lead to trivial workarounds and only a few million in damages — not exactly a worthwhile outcome in such a massive legal crusade. Apple has not commented on the Oracle case, but it surely has watched concerned as Google legally demolished its accuser’s claims.
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