Samsung won a victory in its ongoing battle with Apple over patent infringement in the U.S. An appeals court granted Samsung's motion to have Judge Lucy Koh weigh the harm to Samsung of leaving a preliminary injunction against sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab against the likelihood of Apple's success in getting a permanent injunction against the device.
This is a fairly complex development for those of us on layman side of the law—allow us to try to explain anyway:
As noted above, a jury convicted Samsung of willfully infringing on several Apple design and utility patents on August 24th, while simultaneously finding that Apple did not infringe on Samsung's patents due to patent exhaustion (meaning that Apple was covered by licenses granted to the companies making relevant components).
The jury ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 101.1 did not infringe on one design patent, D'889. This is important because Apple had already been granted a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 based on this patent when Judge Koh ruled that Apple was likely to win this claim.
Samsung understandably wants the preliminary injunction lifted, but the situation is made more complicated by a few more issues. The most important is that Apple has filed for a Rule 50 motion—as explained by FOSS Patents, Apple is asking for the court to overrule the jury when it comes to the D'889 patent.
Apple has also argued that the preliminary injunction should stay in place because the jury did find that the Galaxy Tab infringed on other Apple patents, infringement that is entitled to its own injunction should it survive the appeals process. Earlier in September, Judge Koh ruled that the injunction would remain in place.
The remand motion asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to force Judge Koh to weigh harm to Samsung against Apple's chance of success, and the court agreed. At the same time, the ruling specified that, "In granting the motion, the Federal Circuit takes no position on the proceedings the trial court should employ in considering the motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction or on the merits of the motion."
Further muddying the waters is the reality that harm to Samsung will be limited by the reality that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is near the end of its life cycle—its replacement is already on the market, and isn't (as of this writing) a part of this specific case.
This is a by-product of the reality that these patent fights are largely outpaced by the tech industry itself. By the time this stuff gets ruled on by a court or the U.S. International Trade Commission, many of the affected products are no longer on the market.
As we have noted all along in our coverage of the patent battles, this is just one of many more steps to come in the appeals process as these two rich tech giants continue to slug it out.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.