Apple is denied injunction against Samsung products


Even after winning a historic $1.05 billion patent and trademark verdict, Apple sought a court-ordered injunction against Samsung. If granted, we would have seen the infringing Samsung phones banned from the US market. Unfortunately for Apple, that won’t be happening anytime soon, if at all.

In post-trial motions, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh said that Apple had not proven that infringement of its design patents caused “irreparable harm,” negating the company’s request for an injunction. Koh states that what Apple did was establish that “design, as a general matter, is important to consumers more broadly.”

Apple did not establish at the preliminary injunction stage that the ’381 patent was central enough to Samsung’s products to drive sales, and has not established that fact here either. Nor has Apple established that either the ’915 or the ’163 patents actually drive sales of any Samsung products. Neither statements about broad categories, nor evidence of copying, nor the conjoint survey provides sufficiently strong evidence of causation.

Apple apparently would have more luck in being granted the injunction if they pushed the argument that Samsung copied the unique look of its products, its “trade dress.” The devices which were found to infringe on Apple’s design, however, were mostly no longer on the market. Of the more than a dozen phones in question, only three were still being sold. There have been no cases of a permanent injunction under the Federal Trade Dilution Act for products that are no longer available for purchase.

Another issue that Judge Lucy Koh discusses is regarding the damages in the case. Apple wants the fine to be significantly increased from the current $1.05 billion because of Samsung’s “willfulness.” While I don’t agree that a permanent injunction is necessary and good for the industry, a higher bill for Samsung to pay is something I can stand behind. When many were awed by the normally tide-shifting billion dollars, industry folks cited that it was a mere dent due to Samsung’s high revenue. For 2012, Samsung’s overall sales is expected to be around $173 billion. In addition to that, they’ll be spending up to $43 billion in R&D and almost $12 million in marketing. I have to agree with Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny here when he says that the billion-dollar verdict will amount to no more than a “slap on the wrist.”

Apple is of course going to appeal for the injunction, but that will take time and will be increasingly difficult to achieve, making it likely that the monetary award will be all they’re getting from this case. So that means we can put all this Apple versus Samsung court brouhaha behind us, right? Wrong. A new lawsuit with even more patent claims involving their newest devices is scheduled for trial in 2014. Consider 2013 a year-long recess from Apple and Samsung’s court issues — maybe.

Oh and Samsung was also denied a retrial by Judge Koh. Samsung tried to argue jury misconduct but Judge Koh did not bite. Looks like this will all go to the Appeals Court after all.

[via Ars Technica, Seattle Times, Fortune, image via Haydn Blackey]

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