Judge Denies Apple Request to Block Samsung Gadgets Sales in the U.S.

Apple Inc. failed to convince a U.S. judge to block Samsung Electronics from selling some Galaxy smartphones and tablets in the U.S. market, depriving the iPhone and iPad maker of crucial leverage in a global patent battle between the two companies

Apple claims that Samsung's devices illegally borrow from the iPhone's and iPad's design. Photo: Sammynetbook/Flickr

A federal judge has blocked Apple Inc.’s attempt to prevent Samsung Electronics Co. from selling certain smartphones and tablets in the U.S. because they allegedly infringe iPhone and iPad patents.

In a ruling issued late Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided that allowing Samsung’s Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices to remain on sale would not harm Apple enough to justify the injunction. She also said such an injunction would likely benefit other gadget makers at Samsung’s expense.

The two companies have filed at least 30 lawsuits against each other, according to Samsung. The conflict began in April, when Apple filed the San Jose lawsuit claiming the Suwon, South Korean company’s Galaxy devices copied the iPhone and iPad.

 In addition to the U.S., the battle has touched down in Australia; the Netherlands; Germany; parts of Asia, and France and Italy; among other places.

“It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed,” Koh wrote.

In a statement about Friday’s ruling, reported by PCMag.com, Samsung said Koh’s decision on the preliminary injunction “confirms our long-held view that Apple’s arguments lack merit. In particular, the court has recognized that Samsung has raised substantial questions about the validity of certain Apple design patents.

We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung’s mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year. We will continue to assert our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple’s claims to ensure our continued ability to provide innovative mobile products to consumers.”

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” Apple said in a statement. “This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Samsung maintains that its products are distinctive from Apple’s.

The suits between the companies are made more complex by the their relationship: Samsung is the second-largest component supplier for Apple and gets about 7.6 percent of its total revenue from selling memory chips, displays and other components for the iPhone and iPad, according to Bloomberg data.

Global tablet sales are expected to explode to more than 50 million this year. Apple, which has sold more than 30 million iPads so far, is expected to continue to dominate the market in the short term.

Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook is under pressure to show he can fill the large shoes of his predecessor, late Silicon Valley titan Steve Jobs. But in his first quarterly result unveiled as permanent CEO, Apple stunned Wall Street, missing expectations for the first time in years.

Despite Friday’s ruling, Apple could still win the overall lawsuit. Samsung, though, might be able to tweak its gadgets to sidestep the patent issues and continue selling its devices–a strategy the company is currently trying in Germany. [via International Business Times, Bloomberg, CBS ans CNET]

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