Apple loses bid to get Samsung ban in US

A US district judge has refused to grant Apple an injunction banning Samsung from selling its smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablet in the US.

District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Apple wasn’t being significantly harmed by sales of the Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 to justify the preliminary injunction.

Apple’s had more luck elsewhere. Last week, an Australian court extended a ban on sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 until this Friday. The decision is intended to give Apple a chance to appeal against a court decision to overturn a temporary ban which has been in place since July.

Samsung has declared itself happy with the outcome, saying it shows that Apple’s claims lack merit. However, it’s not that simple.

While Koh ruled that Apple wasn’t able to demonstrate serious harm from the ban, she did indicate that the company was likely to win on its claims that the Samsung products did infringe its patents, and that the patents themselves are valid.

“If the ruling on Apple’s preliminary injunction request had been the outcome of a liability trial in a regular litigation, Samsung would owe Apple very significant damages for the infringement of a valid iPhone design patent and a valid software patent,” says patent expert Florian Mueller.

“Apple’s arguments didn’t have enough merit in the eyes of the judge to result in a preliminary injunction. But the only thing between Apple and a partial win affecting all four of the accused products (but not based on all of the asserted rights) was the judge’s misassessment of how the market works.”

The case will come to trial next July. Even if Apple does win, though, Samsung may be able to tweak its products to remove any infringement, as it’s currently trying to do in Germany.