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November 19, 2013

Federal Court Orders Judge to Reconsider Apple’s Request for Samsung Smartphone Ban

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A federal appeals court sided with Apple Monday, ordering a United States District judge to reassess the iPhone maker’s bid to block eight Samsung phones from the U.S. market due to patent violations.

Judge Lucy Koh denied Apple’s request for an injunction against Samsung last December, thwarting the iPhone maker’s efforts to have some of its rival’s devices banned for sale in the U.S.

Koh — despite a jury awarding Apple $1.05 billion in damages last August for Samsung’s violation of six of patents — said the Cupertino company was unable to prove the demand for Samsung Smartphones in the U.S. was due to the Apple technology it copied.

“Samsung may have cut into Apple’s customer base somewhat, but there is no suggestion that Samsung will wipe out Apple’s customer base, or force Apple out of the business of making Smartphones,” Koh wrote in her decision. “The present case involves lost sales — not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”

The U.S. court of appeal, however, partially disagreed with Koh’s assessment.

“For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court’s denial of Apple’s request for a permanent injunction with respect to its design patents and trade dress,” the appeals court’s decision reads.

“However, we vacate the district court’s denial of Apple’s request for a permanent injunction with respect to its utility patents and remand for further proceedings.”

In other words, while the federal court upheld Koh’s refusal to order an injunction on the design patents, the appeals court said she was wrong to require proof that the patents Samsung infringed were the only reason consumers bought its devices.

The patents in question are: the ‘bounce-back’ feature, which permits users scrolling through text to bounce back upon reaching the end and a ‘multi-touch display’ that enables the phone to differentiate between using one finger to scroll and two to ‘pinch to zoom.’ The ‘double tap to zoom,’ meanwhile, permits the user to tap a device twice to zoom in.

“Rather than show that a patent feature is the exclusive reason for consumer demand, Apple must show some connection between the patented feature and demand for Samsung products,” the court decision reads.

The federal court also said the California court relied too much on evidence that Apple licensed the patents to others as grounds to order financial damages rather than an injunction. The U.S. court pointed out it was different in Samsung’s case because it is Apple’s chief rival.

The feud between the two companies, who claim each stole the others’ ideas, has been raging for some time. The case has been full of drama with demands for injunctions, allegations of juror misconduct and numerous appeals.

The two technology giants are in court this week for a retrial on the $1.05 billion in damages Apple was awarded last summer.

Koh said although the jury was both meticulous and uniform in working out the damages, the process used may have been inaccurate. She ruled March 1 that $450.5 million was incorrectly awarded for a handful of Samsung Android OS-based devices and ordered a new trial to determine what the damages related to those particular devices should be.

Samsung must still fork over roughly $600 million in addition to whatever the jury may decide it owes, if anything, for the alleged use of iPhone technology in the Galaxy S II and the Infuse 4G.

Closing arguments are scheduled to be heard today.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.