A federal court has rejected Apple’s request for a perliminary injunction halting the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and three Android smartphones. In a ruling handed down late on Friday, Judge Lucy Koh rejected the request, saying that while Apple was likely to prove that Samsung had infringed on its design patents, she didn’t think it likely that Apple would be able to uphold the validity of the patent itself.
“It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed,” Judge Koh also noted, according to Reuters.
Apple sued Samsung in the U.S. and other countries, accusing Samsung of “slavishly” copying its iPad and iPhone with its some products from its Galaxy ine of Android devices. While Apple has won injunctions in Germany and won an extension on a temporary injunction in Autralia earlier on Friday, the company has had much less success in case in the U.S.
There are many factors contributing to these differences, including different legal systems and standards, different precedents, different patent systems, and umpteen other factors that will no doubt be the basis of many future Ph.D dissertations. One of the biggest, however, could well be that the power of a design patent is more constrained in the U.S., and courts tend to be more strict in their interpretations of those patents.
The reality is that while the judge rejected Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction, in her ruling she wrote that, “Apple has established a likelihood of success on the merits at trial.”
The problem for the Cupertino company is that while she thought Apple would be successful in proving that Samsung has infringed on at least one of Apple’s tablet patents, she also that that Apple had not shown her that it would be likely to successfully defend itself against the challenges to that patent that Samsung has already brought to bear.
That would be an excellent example of winning a battle only to lose the war.
Then again, there are many fronts in this war. In addition to design patents, Apple has cases, both lawsuits and complaints brought to the U.S. International Trade Commission, against Samsung, HTC, and other Android device makers alleging infringement on a variety of other patents. Those companies have countersued and counter-complained against Apple, as well, making the whole thing one giant, convoluted mess.
In any event, establishing itself as likely to prevail and likely to uphold the validity of its patent were both preconditions for earning a preliminary injunction. Having failed to do both, Apple will have to take its case to trial while Samsung is allowed to continue selling the devices named in the suit in the U.S.
We should also note that earlier on Friday we got a glimpse of how Apple was arguing its case in the form of testimony from an expert witness. Read our full coverage for more information.