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Loss may necessitate Samsung to switch to 10.1N design, was primarily on the "strength" of Apple's design patent

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has struggled in its "thermonuclear" legal war against Android in recent weeks.  It saw Judge Richard A. Posner, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge who moonlighted in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), first toss its suit against Motorola Mobility (a Google Inc. (GOOGsubsidiaryout of court "with prejudice", then refuse any injunction sales bans of Motorola Mobility's phones. 

I. Persistence Pays Off -- Sort Of

But Apple keeps plugging away at its lawsuit efforts and it was rewarded this week when Judge Lucy Koh in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose/San Francisco) awarded Apple a sales ban (preliminary injunction) on Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The ruling, which does not apply to other Samsung tablets, comes after a Dec. 2011 ruling where Judge Koh refused to grant an injunction to Apple.  

In that opinion, she argued that the Android operating system (designed by Google) on Samsung's tablet likely infringed on Apple's technology patents.  She also wrote that while the Tab 10.1 likely did infringe on Apple's iPad design patent -- U.S. Design Patent D504,889 -- that 2004 patent was likely invalid due to prior art.  Thus she refused to grant an injunction, funneling the case towards a jury trial.

Apple D'889 patent
Apple's D'889 patent [Image Source: Google Patents]

Apple appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals heard the case for the Federal Circuit -- a higher court.  That court's May 14th ruling [PDF] confirmed Judge Koh's finding of design infringement, but rejected her finding of invalidity, ruling that the Apple patent did not infringe on prior art, such as designs seen in fictional works like Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The case was sent back to Judge Koh who was forced to now grant a preliminary injunction given the sweeping infringement findings.  After both sides filed their briefs, Judge Koh issued a ruling on June 26, with Apple emerging victorious:

Galaxy Tab Injunction Ruling



In the ruling she concludes, "For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction and ENJOINS the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer."

II. Damage to Samsung Will Likely be Minimal

So where does this leave Samsung?  First Samsung's tablet sales in the U.S. have been lackluster, so the injunction isn't a major blow to the company's profitability, particularly given that only a single model is banned out of Samsung's large lineup.

Galaxy Tab 10.1N
Samsung has a whole lineup of smaller tablets, which have not yet been banned.
[Image Source: Ubergizmo] 

Samsung is actually financially fortunate that Judge Koh rejected Apple's attempt to ban the launch of the flagship Galaxy S III phone, as that would be vastly more costly to Samsung's revenue.

Apple has posted a $2.6M USD bond to enforce the ban.  Enforcement usually takes a couple of weeks to be put in place.  In the meantime Samsung is likely to swap out its Galaxy Tab 10.1, with the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which it designed to skirt a similar ban.  The Galaxy Tab 10.1N adds more distinctive differences from Apple's design.

Samsung has also appealed the injunction.  Its lawyers issued a statement, writing, "Apple sought a preliminary injunction of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, based on a single design patent that addressed just one aspect of the product’s overall design.  Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted."

III. Bans in Other Regions Have Been Successfully Overturned

This isn't exactly new territory for Samsung.  This is actually the third time a large market has banned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 due to Apple's design claims.  Samsung successfully reversed both bans.  

In Germany it reversed the ban by offering up the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which redesigns the case to look even less like the iPad.  Apple tried to re-ban that design, but a court rejected its attempt, arguing the new design looked nothing like Apple's patent design.

In Australia, Samsung merely appealed the ban to a higher court, which found that the lower judge had ruled inappropriately.  In a stern rebuke it reversed the judge's ruling, allowing the base Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be "unbanned" and return to the market.

Given those successes, it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to prevent Samsung from selling 10-inch tablets, even in the short term.  Apple's spokeswoman claims Apple is merely trying to protect its patented designs.  However, it's pretty hard to believe that anyone truly mistook a Galaxy Tab for an iPad, or bought it because it "looked like an iPad."

Time to Tab

There's no hope of this dispute reaching a settlement, after talks between the two company's CEOs in Northern California District Court collapsed.  Instead, the case will be going before a jury next month.  The Jury will hear Apple's case against Samsung and Samsung's countersuit, both of which were filed in April 2011. 

Judge Koh has limited both companies to 25 hours of testimony and 125 exhibits each.  She says to allow them to spend as much time as their lawyers wanted would be to subject jurors to "cruel and unusual punishment".

Sources: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California [Scribd], All Things D



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Uggg
By formulav8 on 6/27/2012 12:18:10 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely can't stand those stinking Apple greedy guts.




RE: Uggg
By formulav8 on 6/27/2012 12:24:02 PM , Rating: 4
As well as the lawyers who cater to Apes every need, and without discretion. Apple says what they want, the lawyers, who could care less about ethics or anything; simply get Apple what they want. Without reguard to anything but Money, and money only.


RE: Uggg
By aurareturn on 6/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Uggg
By n0ebert on 6/27/2012 12:56:11 PM , Rating: 5
RE: Uggg
By testerguy on 6/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Uggg
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/27/2012 2:51:04 PM , Rating: 3
Neither, you idiot.


RE: Uggg
By retrospooty on 6/27/2012 3:46:11 PM , Rating: 1
Hey look. Tail removed from between his legs on the last pwnage, he has returned to spout trash.

"If there was ever a post which proved exactly the opposite of what the OP intended, this is it."

No, only if you have Apple blinders on like you do. It clearly shows that the concept existed far before Apple, and the product type existed as well. Apple made it fun/easy to use, give them that... But all this crap about looking alike is rediculous. How many ways can you make a rectangle? Cant wait til this gets shut down as well.


RE: Uggg
By xytc on 6/27/2012 5:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
Stay calm, there's no BAN that can't be OVERCOME and OVERTURN . :))
Samsung just needs to try a little harder than Apple does in order to succeed.


RE: Uggg
By retrospooty on 6/27/2012 5:59:24 PM , Rating: 1
I dont think it will be an issue for Samsung to succeed. The Galaxy S3 will own the market. I got mine on pre-order. Once people see other people with this phone, I think it will start creating its own buzz and sell more and more.


RE: Uggg
By testerguy on 6/28/12, Rating: 0
RE: Uggg
By aurareturn on 6/27/2012 3:54:35 PM , Rating: 1
See my original post. I said *Function*. I knew someone would dig up some unrelated picture and compare it to the iPad.

Nothing looked and FUNCTIONED like the iPad before... well.. the iPad.

Prove me wrong.


RE: Uggg
By Natch on 6/27/2012 4:23:26 PM , Rating: 4
And yet, when the personal computer came out, did you see patent wars because someone designed a computer with a desktop case, keyboard and screen? NO.

When laptops first came out, did we see a patent war because other companies designed a portable computer with a screen on one side, and a keyboard and touch pad on the other side, with a hinge in between so it opens like a book? NO.

For that matter, transistor radios were rectangular in shape. Did someone sue Apple for making the ipod rectangular in shape? NO.

WHY NOT??

Maybe because certain designs are so obvious, they shouldn't be able to be patented?


RE: Uggg
By momorere on 6/27/2012 5:15:34 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait until Apple "creates" TV later this year when they release the iTV. I guess this thing that we have been calling TVs for over 70 years, are just things in our imaginations. We all know that Apple will try to patent their tv.

No one will be able to produce a rectangular structure that displays images and produces sound while giving the end user the ability to control digital content for entertainment. I can easily see more judges being paid off "enforcing the IP of Apple Inc."

I also can't wait until the real ITV of the UK taking them to court and suing the crap out of them http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ITV-UK-TV-Broadca... Considering they have been since the 1950s. I'm sure that good ol Steve patented the TV and the name iTV as soon as he was born and Apple will be granted the rights to the name


RE: Uggg
By Solandri on 6/27/2012 6:01:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nothing looked and FUNCTIONED like the iPad before... well.. the iPad.

Prove me wrong.

The Thinkpad X60 tablet in 2006 had an optional multitouch screen. It was designed as a tablet PC (converts between laptop mode and tablet mode), but using it in tablet mode with your fingers it looked and functioned very much like an iPad, given that it was about as small as you could make such a device with the technology at the time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6wL4zVAl8M

Don't get me wrong. I always give kudos to Apple for pushing friendly user interfaces (sometimes to a fault) and taking risks on new UI schemes (e.g. completely ditching the keyboard). But don't for a minute think that they invented pointing and moving stuff on a screen with your fingers. Do you think they invented auto-rotate from portrait to landscape mode too? The even-older X41 tablet had that (on my 2004 Toshiba tablet, you had to press a switch to flip it).


RE: Uggg
By formulav8 on 6/27/2012 1:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
Where does it say only Apple is greedy? It also doesn't take much to see what is inspiring these law suites


RE: Uggg
By WalksTheWalk on 6/27/2012 1:13:49 PM , Rating: 3
Apple is not the only greedy company here, but they are the company waging all out legal war against other companies for minor likenesses between their products and their competitors products.

For design infringement, Apple should have to prove to a legal reasonability that Samsung is confusing consumers where they intend to purchase an iPad and go home with a Galaxy Tab not knowing the difference.

Apple doesn't have a monopoly on general product designs. Apple was influenced by those that came before them, just as Samsung is influenced by Apple today. Anybody that tells you different is either lying or ignorant of history.


RE: Uggg
By testerguy on 6/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Uggg
By sprockkets on 6/27/2012 2:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Whether consumers are 'confused' or not (something easily avoided by writing a big fat different logo on it, as Samsung did) has no relevance at all as to whether design patents were infringed. You can copy a BMW down to every single detail, and then stamp 'NISSAN' all over it. People wont be confused, but design patents are still infringed upon.


That's copyright and trade dress, not design patent.


RE: Uggg
By testerguy on 6/28/2012 5:48:33 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's both.

Both trade dress and design patents can exist in the case of a car since it's both 'ornamental' and also distinguishes the source of the goods to consumer.

My original point stands.


RE: Uggg
By testerguy on 6/28/2012 5:51:18 AM , Rating: 2
And actually, your comment should go to the guy who I replied to.

The test he describes is about trade dress, but trade dress isn't the issue here, what's being upheld is a design patent - something entirely non-dependant on public perception.


RE: Uggg
By kleinma on 6/27/2012 2:24:07 PM , Rating: 2
Android Phones don't look like iPhones. Windows Phone 7 doesn't look like an iPhone. Touch screen based phones existed before the iPhone. The iPhone made it popular though, so everything gets to be labeled a copy of it.

There are only so many ways to make a rectangle with the entire UI being a screen that takes up most of the front face. That pretty much sums up every single touch screen phone before, up to, and after the iPhone.

Tablets are the same exact thing as described above. Apple was not first in any respect. They just made one that was better than previous ones at the time, and claim they should own every aspect of the concept of a tablet.

Just because you steal an idea and build on it, doesn't mean you didn't steal the idea. So it is pretty hypocritical of Apple (the guys who would not exist without stealing IP from Xerox, to later be pissed that MS stole the stolen IP and made windows) are going to these great lengths to claim people copied them.

I would think this really old pre iEra digital photo frame made by samsung should be allowed as evidence to ban Apple's iPad since they clearly copied Samsungs design.

http://phonerpt.com/wp-content/uploads/Samsung-pho...


RE: Uggg
By StormyKnight on 6/27/2012 11:30:26 PM , Rating: 1
Both my OG Droid and my Galaxy Nexus look nothing like the Crapple i(diot)Phone. Not even close.


RE: Uggg
By chick0n on 7/18/2012 3:53:52 PM , Rating: 1
Are you smoking? or were you at Apple Store as you typing that crap ?

You need to get ur facts straight, well, just like all Apple fanboys/girls, complete morons.


fujitsu
By valkator on 6/27/2012 2:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
Fujitsu also had the ST5020 out long before the ipad. That is a slate tablet with winxp tablet edition. Just saying another good example. That was out in 2004.




RE: fujitsu
By Church of Dirac on 6/27/2012 5:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
Nope that was a real computer not an oversized smartphone. And you used a pen instead of your fingers, just like a real adult!


Wow what a victory
By sprockkets on 6/27/2012 12:36:39 PM , Rating: 2
...if only Samsung was selling the Galaxy tab instead of this one that looks like the N version anyhow:

http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxytab2...

Poor Samsung.

What will apple do when the time the lawsuit goes into effect the new model is already out?

SUCKERS!




By nofear4COMment on 6/27/2012 12:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
Re appeal the case put CrApple patent to shame with difference judge.




Lawyers were stupid
By zephyrprime on 6/27/2012 2:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
This is actually the fault of the lawyers defending Samsung. They based their case on claims of prior art and they based those claims on fictional tablets. You have to understand the law, the law is anal retentive and a stickler for details (like programming languages). What they should have done was to argue a double case. First, they should have used the prior art defense but with a real tablet as the prior art. Many tablets were made by MS that could have been used as prior art (as well as even earlier non-ms tablets). Their mistake was using FICTIONAL tablets as prior art! The appeals court was correct in it's ruling because the stupid defense team used fictional tablets for their case. Courts only consider the argument as you present them, they won't go and research other obvious prior art on their own if you don't present it in court.

Secondly, they should have also argued that design idea was something that any practitioner in the field could have conceived of and this was evidenced by the fact that there were tablet computers in famous media products like 2001 and Star Trek and etc. Note the distinction here. I'm not arguing prior art, I'm arguing that the idea is too obvious.




No other practical way
By valkator on 6/27/2012 2:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
How else are you going to design a tablet? Does any of these apple fan boys have another suggestion? Take a week and see if you have another way to take a Skinny monitor, make it touchscreen and throw and SOC in it.... Lets see here.. OOO lets make the screen circular and then... instead of touch screen you can staple a keyboard to the back of it and somehow type on it. Don't care what anyone says, making a skinny looking monitor into a computer you can carry around with a built in battery is the only real way you can do this. The galaxy tab does not look like the ipad FYI. It is like saying the Thinkpad looks like a sony viao. Yes, they are both laptops and they have a striking resemblence to each other, but they look different.




"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain














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