In the latest development in the legal saga between Apple and Samsung, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh tentatively declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would bar some Samsung smartphones and tablets from U.S. sale. In July, Apple had requested the injunction from the Northern District Californian federal court on the basis that Samsung’s Galaxy line of products copies the iPhone and iPad in functions and appearance.
In Thursday’s hearing by the San Jose federal court, the judge refused to issue a ban based on the utility patent asserted by Apple (U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381). With regard to the three design patents, however, Judge Koh suggested that the Samsung products do appear quite similar to Apple’s devices. Therefore, there is a possibility that the ban could still be made on the ground of design patent infringement. At one point in the hearing, the judge held up a Samsung Galaxy tablet and an Apple iPad side by side, and asked the legal counsel for Samsung to tell them apart. One lawyer finally got it right after failed attempts by his slightly embarrassed colleagues.
In comparison to an Australian court’s decision on the same day to preliminarily ban the sale of the Galaxy tablet, Samsung’s legal team did breathe a temporary sigh of relief in the U.S court, where the judge expressed concerns with the validity of the patents asserted upon by Apple. For an injunction to be issued in its favour, Apple must first establish that the said patents (U.S. Design Patent No. D618,677, D593,087, and D504,889.) are valid under the law.