U.S. judge rejects Apple bid to halt Galaxy sales

Sat Dec 3, 2011 6:07am EST

Students walk out of a showroom at the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Seoul October 28, 2011.   REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Students walk out of a showroom at the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Seoul October 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

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(Reuters) - Apple failed to convince a U.S. judge to block Samsung Electronics from selling 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.

In a ruling released late on Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California denied Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung.

The two companies are engaged in a bruising legal battle that includes more than 20 cases in 10 countries as the they jostle for the top spot in the smartphone and tablet markets.

Earlier on Friday, an Australian court extended a halt on sales of Samsung's latest Galaxy tablet in the country by at least a week, as Apple appeals a ruling that had ended the ban.

Apple sued Samsung in the United States in April, saying the South Korean company's Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets "slavishly" copies the iPhone and iPad.

But on Friday Koh rejected Apple's bid to ban sales of three smartphone models, as well as the Samsung Tab 10.1.

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

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet on Friday referred to previous Apple statements about the case, saying that Samsung's "blatant copying is wrong."

Samsung spokesman Jason Kim said Samsung welcomed Koh's opinion. "This ruling confirms our long-held view that Apple's arguments lack merit," Kim said in an email.

Apple could still prevail in the overall lawsuit. But it's inability to win a quick halt to Galaxy sales in the United States comes as the stakes skyrocket in one of the fastest growing consumer electronics markets.

UNDER PRESSURE

Global tablet sales are expected to explode to more than 50 million in 2011. Apple, which has sold more than 30 million iPads so far, is expected to continue to dominate the market in the near 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.

Analysts said customers held off buying iPhones in the September quarter, waiting for the October launch of the latest iPhone 4S.

But tablets proved a bright spot. The company moved 11.12 million units during the quarter despite attempts by various manufacturers, including Samsung, to capture a slice of the tablet market.

Now Amazon.com has also entered the fray with its Kindle Fire tablet, but Samsung's Galaxy line-up is widely deemed the closest rival in terms of capability and design to the iPad.

Acknowledging the competition, Cook said it was "reasonable to say" none of Apple's rivals have gained any traction, and he expected the tablet market to be bigger than personal computer in the long term.

In her ruling, Koh wrote that for some of the smartphones, "Apple has established a likelihood of success on the merits at trial."

Koh added that Apple would likely prove Samsung infringed one of its tablet patents. However, Apple had not shown that it was likely to overcome Samsung's challenges to the patent's validity, Koh wrote.

Apple must demonstrate both infringement and validity to succeed in its lawsuit.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, 11-1846.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)

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Comments (22)
Sinbad1 wrote:
If Apple built cars they would sue any other maker who’s vehicles had wheels and a steering wheel.

Dec 03, 2011 12:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
Kellic wrote:
Oh no. Apple will actually have to…*gasp* actually try and compete instead of sue its competition into the ground. What’s Apple’s current smart phone market share? 20% and falling or something. LOL. If I sound annoyed its because this is Apple’s MO. strangle real innovation and competition so they can continue to put out minor updates so their iUsers are forced to buy marginally batter hardware year after year. Meanwhile the competition blows the doors off the iPhone with better hardware, more original designs, and designs that run the gambit so people have….what was that word…..oh yah that’s right….choices. Because 1…or is that i size does NOT fit all. Apple is terrified by this because its what lost them the PC wars. So their only recourse? Stop the innovation at the source.

Dec 03, 2011 2:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
Jake_in_Seoul wrote:
Apple’s MO is “Strangle real innovation”?! I must have missed all the multi-touch phones and tablets before Apple marketed theirs.^^ Fortunately, there is a simple way to decide the issue. Samsung is one of the most powerful makers of LED TVs in the world and have a research center with 4000 Ph.D.s in Suwon, south of Seoul. Surely, they are replete with own possible, independent innovation, right? So, next year after Apple markets their own late-to-the-party TV, will Samsung effortlessly crush Apple’s lackluster effort by independent innovation in one of their strongest products? Or will they, once again, compete through attempts at legal imitation of Apple’s designs and functionality because consumers prefer Apple products?

Dec 03, 2011 3:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
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