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US judge dismisses Apple sales ban request against Samsung

05 Dec 2011

Apple has lost an attempt to have a number of Samsung devices banned from sale in the US after a judge ruled against the iPhone manufacturer at a preliminary hearing.

Apple was looking to have the Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned from sale ahead of the main hearing, but district court judge Lucy Koh ruled against the firm on Friday.

"Apple has failed to establish that it would be irreparably harmed in the absence of a preliminary injunction," she concluded in her report on the case.

Apple's request for an injunction was based on four alleged infringements covering design and technology. Koh dismissed three of these, but ruled that the fourth, concerning patent 381 which covers scrolling software, has some merit but is not enough to warrant a ban.

"Apple has established that it is likely to succeed in establishing infringements, and it is likely to withstand a challenge to the validity of the 381 patent, and therefore Apple has made a strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits," she said.

"Nonetheless Apple has failed to establish that is it likely to be irreparably harmed in the absence of a preliminary injunction, and that monetary damages would not sufficiently compensate it for the infringement of the 381 patent."

V3 contacted Samsung for comment but had received no reply at the time of publication. Apple refused to comment on the matter directly.

Patent analyst Florian Mueller wrote in a blog post that the ruling suggests that Apple's strategy of tackling Samsung over design patents will not work in the US as it has in other jurisdictions.

"It becomes clear design patents are not the answer to Apple's issues with Samsung because their valid scope appears far too narrow to prevent Samsung from selling products with an attractive design that will be similar to Apple's offerings," he said.

However, Mueller added that some aspects of Koh's ruling, such as the comments on the 381 patent, give Apple hope that it may have some success at the main hearing in 2012.

"It's not all bad for Apple with a view to the final decision on those intellectual property rights that will come down at the end of the main proceeding," he said.

"It's possible that Apple will get a more favourable outcome on some of the asserted rights in the main proceeding."

The decision is the second legal victory for Samsung in recent weeks, having been on the back foot in many territories after overturning a sales injunction in Australia.

However, Apple managed to extend its injunction by a week as it prepares to challenge the decision.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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