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Major Defeat For Apple, US Judge Rejects It’s Design Patents, No Injunction On Samsung Products

In one of the most dramatic, controversial and written about court cases, judge Koh has denied Apple’s motion for an injunction against Samsung devices. According to Groklaw, the judge says Apple has failed to prove Samsung caused any irreparable harm to the iPhone maker.

The judge wrote in her order:

The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents. Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions. Especially given the lack of causal nexus, the fact that none of the patented features is core to the functionality of the accused products makes an injunction particularly inappropriate here.

However, the judge also denied Samsung’s request for a new trial. The judge seemed to have bought Apple’s argument that Samsung could have discovered about the foreman’s involvement earlier, a reason Samsung cited for the new trial. None of this is important, the gem that came out of this case is the fact that this judge has also, just like judges in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and many other countries, rejected the value of Apple’s design patent. As the Groklaw reports, the judge wrote in her ruling:

First, though more specific than the general “design” allegations, they are still not specific enough to clearly identify actual patented designs. Instead, they refer to such isolated characteristics as glossiness, reinforced glass, black color, metal edges, and reflective screen. Apple does not have a patent on, for example, glossiness, or on black color.

The judge also refused any injunction based on trade dress accusations, she wrote:

Further, the Court has found that neither the inadequacy of money damages nor the public interest favors an injunction here, for either patent infringement or trade dress dilution. Regarding trade dress dilution specifically, as explained above, the case for an injunction is especially weak, because there are no diluting products still available, even without an injunction.

The judge then wrote:

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In sum, to the limited extent that Apple has been able to show that any of its harms were caused by Samsung’s illegal conduct (in this case, only trade dress dilution), Apple has not established that the equities support an injunction.  Accordingly, Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction is DENIED.

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Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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