Judge Denies Apple Injunction Again in Samsung Patent Fight

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Apple's efforts to win an injunction blocking the sale of certain Android-based smartphones and tablets from Samsung have failed yet again. Federal Judge Lucy Koh ruled on Thursday that Apple won't get their injunction because the requirement to show irreparable harm hasn't been met.

Apple loses out on a Samsung sales ban yet againApple loses out on a Samsung sales ban again

Judge Koh rejected the injunction request before, and Apple appealed her ruling. The Appeals Court gave Apple some hope when it said that Judge Koh needed to reconsider her ruling and that an injunction may be warranted.

"After the partly-successful appeal, things actually looked reasonably good for Apple," said Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents. "The appeals court had not directed the district court to enter an injunction, but it had revived Apple's bid, which the same judge had originally denied in December 2012."

Judge Koh's original ruling was part of the first mobile device patent infringement trial between Apple and Samsung that wrapped up in August 2012 with a Jury awarding the iPhone and iPad maker over US$1 billion in damages. That amount was later adjusted to more than $900,000 in a damages retrial because the original amount had been improperly calculated.

Much of the argument for a possible sales ban centered on a survey conducted by Dr. John Hauser, who is an MIT professor and served as an expert witness for Apple. The survey he conducted showed that consumers were willing to pay more for iPhones because of the features they include, many of which are protected by patents. Based on those results, Apple felt it had shown it was losing sales because Samsung includes the same features in its smartphones and tablets without paying licensing fees.

In today's followup ruling, Judge Koh said the survey was too limited and didn't adequately back up Apple's assertions. She said,

Dr. Hauser's survey does not provide a way to directly compare consumers' willingness to pay for particular features to the overall value of the infringing devices. In other words, Dr. Hauser's survey measures the market demand for the patented features in a vacuum, without relation to the actual price or value of the devices.

She added that many of the selling features in the survey weren't actually patented technologies, such as battery life, text messaging, processor speed, and whether or not the device included a built-in GPS.

Judge Koh summed up the issue saying, "Apple, in other words, cannot obtain a permanent injunction merely because Samsung's lawful competition impacts Apple in a way that monetary damages cannot remedy."

That's a big blow for Apple because the survey was a keystone point in its injunction argument. It isn't, however, the end of the line because Apple can appeal today's ruling, but only if it can find a different argument to push.

Apple and Samsung are set to start their second patent infringement trial before Judge Koh at the end of March. Many of the same patents will be included by both sides, although they will target newer products than were listed in the original trial.

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Judge Koh's ruling is a strategic loss for Apple because an injunction at this point would help make its upcoming patent infringement case against Samsung even stronger. The two companies are set for a second trial in just a few weeks, and Apple is hoping for a landslide win again.

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