California - A California federal judge rejected Apple's request for a United States sales ban on a number of smartphones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. that were found to infringe Apple's patents and trade dress.
Just before the holidays U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said Apple was unable to establish that the patented features in question are features that drive sales of the iPhone, thus Apple was unable to prove the company would suffer irreparable harm because of Samsung's sale of the infringing products.
Apple requested the injunction, which would have removed 26 of Samsung's current and future products from store shelves during the heart of the holiday season, after a California jury ruled in August that Samsung had infringed six utility and design patents which Apple owns.
Apple wanted the injunction in order to force Samsung to overhaul its product lines and to give Apple a piece of the popular Galaxy S II's sales, which would have made the injunction more valuable to Apple than the $1.05 billion it was awarded by the San Francisco jury.
Apple argued that the patents Samsung is infringing cover features of the iPhone design, including its black color, metal edges, reinforced glass and glossiness, which it argued are important to consumers when purchasing a smartphone. However, Judge Koh said the entire design of the phone, not the isolated characteristics Apple pointed out, is what is protected by its patent.
Judge Koh also said it is unclear how much a consumer considers design when making a smartphone purchase. Even if it was clear that design played a large part in a consumer's decision-making, Apple did not provide evidence that the specific design features Samsung was found to have infringed actually influence a consumer's decision to purchase a specific smartphone.
"Apple makes no attempt to prove that any more specific element of the iPhone's design, let alone one covered by one of Apple's design patents, actually drives consumer demand," Judge Koh said.
In addition to denying Apple's bid for a permanent injunction, Judge Koh also denied Samsung's request for a new trial.
Samsung claimed that juror Velvin Hogan withheld information during the voir dire process regarding his involvement in litigation with Seagate Technology PLC, a company Samsung recently invested in. Judge Koh dismissed the request saying Samsung waived its arguments during the voir dire process.