Court Denies Apple Injunction in Patent Fight with Samsung

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Apple suffered a big setback Monday evening when Judge Lucy Koh refused to grant an injunction blocking the sale of Samsung's Android-based Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Apple had requested the injunction after a U.S. Federal Court Jury ruled Samsung infringed on several of its mobile-related patents.

No injunction for Apple is a big win for SamsungNo injunction for Apple is a big win for Samsung

Refusing to grant the injunction is a blow to Apple, and until now unheard of, according to Florian Mueller of Foss Patents. He stated,

It may be unprecedented in the legal history of the United States for an injunction motion to be denied across the board despite such a large number of infringement findings (roughly half a dozen) by a jury and, especially, in light of the competitive situation between the two as well as the jury's findings of willful infringement. If no injunction is ordered in such a case, it is hard to see how any patent holder could ever prevail on such a motion, and I doubt that this is what the appeals court will consider the right outcome.

He added that a permanent injunction would've been more valuable to Apple than the $1 billion in damages it was awarded as part of the ruling.

"A damages award doesn't give Apple major leverage against Samsung. At this point, the August jury verdict has little more than symbolic value."

Judge Koh said granting the ban wasn't in the public's best interest even though most of the listed devices aren't sold any more, and noted that Apple hadn't shown harm beyond trade dress dilution related to Samsung copying the iPhone and iPad design.

The ruling does open the possibility for Apple to get its damages award increased by half, which the company is shooting for now. That won't, however, take the sting off losing out on a sweeping product ban.

Apple will no doubt appeal the ruling, but that will take months during which Samsung will most likely continue on with business as usual releasing products it says are innovative but Apple says steal from its designs.

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Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Wow. Here’s a spot where if you dug into the ruling instead of The Dümlaut’s reporting on it, you’d find her reasoning right up front. To grant an injunction, Koh has to find irreparable harm that is pushing the patent holder out of the market. By all accounts, Apple has not been pushed out of the smartphone market. It can still compete. Hell, I see WalMart is even discounting the iPhone 5 now, and moving plenty!

This is Federal Court, not the ITC. The Dümlaut doesn’t seem to know the difference.

Terrin

Bosco:

Judge Koh is a smart Judge no doubt, but that doesn’t mean her reasoning is correct. Further, I don’t think you present her reasoning properly. She is essentially interpreting the Supreme Court and saying that the patents Apple holds that Samsung was found to violate is a small part of Samsung’s products and doesn’t warrant the at issue products being given an injunction.

The problem with her reasoning is two fold. First, Apple sued Samsung over a lot more patents. Judge Koh, however, significantly made Apple whittle down the patent claims to make the case easier to understand for a jury. So had Apple been allowed to include all of the at issue patent claims in this case and had it won, the weight of Apple’s patents found to be violated would be much heavier. It hardly seems fair to now tell Apple that you can’t get an injunction because the patents at issue are a small part of Samsung’s products. Further, Apple’s design patents were found infringed, which essentially is the whole look of Apple’s product. Second, the jury didn’t just find Samsung to infringe Apple’s patents, it found Samsung to willfully do so. Perhaps, the judge will deal with that by trebling the damage award, but considering Samsung was found to violate Apple’s fundamental design patents, it is hard to see how an injunction wasn’t issued. It is worth noting, Judge Koh was overruled on Apple the last time she declined to issue an injunction.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Terrin:

I think what you probably need to get over is any idea that “justice” matches “Patent Law according to Hoyle” in this case. There is “law” that goes beyond what is legislated. It’s customary action. It’s the way complicated disputes actually get settled. Prior to Apple suing HTC, there really was a recognition of what was posturing and what was serious in these communications and technology patent suits. The goal for all parties, though unstated, was always a license and an amicable settlement. And then Apple comes along and turns “violating our patents” into “stealing our ideas” PR, and they actually meant it.

And that’s really the problem, because Apple did not get pushed out of the market by Samsung, Google, or anyone else. Apple’s ideas weren’t stolen. It’s simply competition that we’ve seen over and over in new spaces. And if you still contend that everyone stole Apple’s ideas, all I can say is get over yourself. That kind of whining is what makes so many chuckle when the legal things don’t go Apple’s way. I think the real rub with you guys is that the “thieves” went off in different directions than Apple’s master plan and found lots of success. 

The industry, the public, and even the justice system are tired of Apple’s legal crap. Judge Koh is a wonderful case in point. It seemed that at the beginning of the trial, she was falling all over herself to give Apple every conceivable advantage. Recall Sammie’s attorney’s words during bench discussions on opening statements: “Why even have a trial?” And now, after a verdict is in, she’s just tired of the whole thing and seems to want to wrap it up and get it out of her court, even if it means every decision she made will be overturned and mocked on appeal.

You might think of Apple’s legal jihad in the same light as Apple Maps. I’ll say this… Apple Maps didn’t need to be the disaster it is. Below the PR level, it’s a good looking, nicely performing product that has some data issues. It’s probably indistinguishable from magic for most iPhone users. Just like Apple’s legal arguments are line by line probably nearer perfect than any lawyers have ever put together. But above all that is perception. And the perception level is horrible for Apple. The arrogance is both a turn-off and a warning flag.

Terrin

Bosco:

Apple is a company that while was Steve was around always stood out as an underdog by offering the market what it considered innovative designs. PC manufacturers were offering beige boxes with noisy fans, Apple was offering all in one blueberry colored convection cooled computers. The innovative designs are what allowed Apple to stand out, and saved the company. When you walked into a store and saw an iMac, you knew what you were looking at. So, protecting those designs has always been important to Apple. For instance, it sued and obtained injunctions over companies trying to copy the original iMac.

Apple has never been a company interested in licensing (except for that short lived Mac Os licensing experiment that almost killed the company). It is interested in protecting the look and feel of its products so as to not make them commodities. You might disagree with that approach. Personally, I think Apple is in the right to try and protect its designs, but probably is fighting a fight it can’t win taking the hard line approach it is taking. It probably would have been smarter to force its competitors to take licenses like Microsoft has done.

With all that said, any idiot can see Samsung did in fact blatantly copy just about every aspect of the iPhone down to the packaging. As I have said before, I have stood in places like Best Buy and heard people refer to Samsung’s display as an iPhone. That shouldn’t happen. Like Coca Cola protecting the look and feel of its Coke bottle and MacDonald’s protecting the Golden Arches, Apple should be able to protect the look and feel of its products as that is how it is trying to distinguish itself in the market. When a company like Samsung makes its products look almost exactly like Apple’s, it is trading off the good will and marketing effort Apple has established.

As far as Apple’s Maps go, I agree that was a fiasco, but only in Apple’s handling of the matter. All Apple had to do is refer to the product as a beta like Google wisely has chosen to do (as it too is not without issues), and it would be hard to criticize Apple to much on the Maps issue.

Angela

“Samsung and Apple, the eternal rivals. Somehow, in this fight has won just the consumer who will enjoy exceptional service at competitive prices.
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