In the latest news to usher forth from Judge Lucy Koh’s courtroom, Apple has been denied a permanent injunction against the sale of Samsung products found to be infringing its patents in the much-publicised case in August. Oh, and she also dashed Samsung’s hope of a retrial after it cried juror misconduct.
Koh raised eyebrows by not declaring a sales ban on the 26 Samsung products previously found to violate Apple’s design and utility patents, for which the Korean giant was ordered to pay Apple some US$1.05-billion in damages. But she said that there was not enough evidence to show that the harm Apple suffers is caused by Samsung’s infringement of its patents, as opposed to Samsung’s overall competitive activity.
She said in the ruling that in order for a injunction on the sale of Samsung products to be implemented, Apple would need to show “that consumers buy the infringing product specifically because it is equipped with the patented feature.”
As Foss Patent’s Florian Mueller points out, that’s a pretty tall order:
As Apple basically told the Federal Circuit in its petition for a rehearing, it’s hard to see how anyone can win a sales ban in U.S. federal court against a multifunctional smartphone or tablet computer if a single feature has to be shown to be a driver of demand.
Judge Koh also said that while some of Apple’s technical patents were also found to have been infringed, it cannot seek an injunction on Samsung devices which use them on the basis that they’re “fun” and easy for customers to use. She said Apple could also not justify an injunction by “showing an individual consumer’s demand for glossiness, or for black colour, as these qualities are not themselves patentable.” Good to know.
Despite the fact that 23 of the 26 infringing products have been discontinued by Samsung and the three remaining devices adapted to circumvent the patents, it’s still altogether good outcome for the company. Theoretically, it could have been held to an injunction ruling even if none of its current products infringe the patents, because US law does not allow for a suspension of an injunction just because the company has stopped selling or changed the original products. But Samsung’s latest attempt to invalidate the ruling has failed too: it was denied its request to overturn the verdict after it said the jury foreman’s former dealings with the company may have influenced his judgement.