Apple's Legal Crusade Against Android Dealt Blow in U.S. Federal Court
December 3, 2011 6:53 PM
comment(s) - last by
Judge calls out Apple on its ubiquitous design claims
Apple, Inc. (
top Android smartphone manufacturer Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) in global sales. Analysts say it could face a similar fate in the tablet market by 2014 or 2015. Apple insists that Android is only beating it in sales because
it "stole" its intellectual property
Unable to stop the Android juggernaut on the market, it has taken the top Android smartphone manufacturers to court [
], trying to prove they infringed on its often ubiquitous patents, which included claims of
. The Android manufacturers have fought back: Samsung and Apple have over 80 smartphone-related suits and counter-suits to date in courts around the world, since the start of the war.
I. Samsung Can Continue to Sell its Products
Late Friday in the U.S., a judge in
Northern District Californian federal court
Judge Lucy H. Koh
, dealt a major setback to Apple's international campaign against Samsung. Following earlier statements where she said she would "likely" deny Apple's request for preliminary injunction, she made it final -- no injunction for Apple.
An injunction could have allowed Apple to ban the sale of all Samsung smartphones in the U.S., as well as imports, without Apple having to work through the full standard due process procedure. Instead, the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets and other popular models like the Infuse 4G and Droid Charge will continue to be available to holiday shoppers.
Samsung spokersperson Jason Kim
in an email, "This ruling confirms our long-held view that Apple's arguments lack merit."
Apple's spokesperson Kristin Huguet disappointedly parrotted her company's previous statement: "[Samsung] blatant copying (Apple) is wrong."
The full PDF of the ruling is available
II. Samsung Likely Infringes Apple's Technology, But Not Its Design
While Judge Koh didn't necessarily dismiss the merits of Apple's
lone technology patent
in the case --
U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381
, which covers a menu bounce animation -- she raised serious concerns about what she viewed as Apple's attempts to position itself as the lone manufacture of functional tablets and smartphones.
She comments that "a size that can be handheld, a screen that encompasses a large portion of the front face of the smartphone, and a speaker on the upper portion of the front face of the product" are functional characteristics, not aesthetic ones and thus should not be protected by Apple's design patents.
Apple asserts that it owns the exclusive rights internationally to produce "minimalist" (that term being the summary of Apple's more verbose claim by a judge in Germany) tablets --
thin, rectangular touch-screen driven tablets with few face buttons
. Thus far Germany
has been the only nation
to buy such a claim.
Judge Koh's comments call into question whether Apple will be able to successfully prove that Samsung is infringing its design patents --
U.S. Design Patent No. D618,677
-- given the compelling differences that exist between Samsung and Apple's product lines once you look past basic form factor.
As for the technology claim, Judge Koh ruled that the menu animation wasn't enough to cause "irreparable harm" to Apple, necessitating a sales ban. She comments, "It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung's accused devices would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed."
She did however indicate that Samsung likely infringed on the patent by including a similar animation in its distribution of the Android operatings system. She wrote, "Apple has established a likelihood of success on the merits at trial."
Apple must now wait until July 30, 2012 to wrap up that case, though.
III. Legal Situation Grows Dire For Apple
Things are looking bad internationally for Apple's legal campaign against Android. So far its only victories have been relatively inconsequential ones, with one exception.
victory in Australian court
, in which a single judge granted a preliminary injunction banning Samsung tablet sales was
overturned by a three judge panel
earlier this week. While
from Apple puts Samsung's sales down under on ice until Dec. 9, it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to sway the three judge panel, given how critical they were of the idea of a preliminary injunction. Assuming Samsung's triumph is preserved, it will be able hit the market just in time for the final leg of holiday sales.
Elsewhere, in the Netherlands Samsung has escaped a sales ban
by modifying its phones' Android distribution
to remove the aforementioned "bounce" animation. It looks likely that a similar loss, modification, and market reinstatement will occur for Samsung in the U.S. Such a process does little to help Apple as it offers virtually no sales delay for Samsung and no serious damage to the quality of Samsung's product.
The lone sign of hope for Apple comes in Germany, Europe's third largest tablet market. A German court ruled in a lawsuit solely dealing with Samsung's tablets that all of Samsung's tablets violated the
(not technology) patents held by Apple in the European Union. This rulign was the polar opposite of the decision by a Netherlands court, which ruled, like the U.S. court, that Apple's design claims were too broad.
yielded to the German Judge's ruling
, redesigning its product to have a different frame and repositioning its elements such as the speaker and buttons. Apple however has filed a second suit against the new design, which should soon go on sale. It reasserts that it should be the only company legally allowed to make a modern tablet (primarily touch driven, thin, rectangular), regardless of whether the modern tablet looks different from the iPad. The German justice system has not yet decided whether or not to authorize Apple's request for a new preliminary injunction.
If Apple continues to lose or post inconsequential wins in the majority of its court cases the company may be forced to decide between financial success and continuing its personal legal vendetta against Android. Late company co-founder and CEO Steve P. Jobs, described
his final plan for his beloved company remarking
, "I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product."
could be forced to make the tough decision of whether to follow that plan -- whether to exhaust all of the company's fortune on trying to "out-sue" its Android rivals.
Ruling via The Verge
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
I'll just post these here.
12/4/2011 11:05:27 PM
Pierre Wellner's Digital Desk:
Ideas of designs from the past:
(note black rectangle with a centered button, something done by Palm and many others).
(Roddenberry probably would have disapproved of Apple's tactics of tech advancements)
Commentary from a Ziff Davis site:
This is to show that what we have now is a natural progression of things and that it was due to Intel (xscale), VIA/ S3, ARM and Samsung (all their wide scale manufacturing of silicon base products and LCDs) that we're getting to the point of massive processing power in a diminutive package. That's not even including the long development of cellular technology.
Also, Wozniak is greater than Steve Jobs.
"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
Samsung Wins Android Appeal in Australia, Apple Vows to Continue Its Fight
November 30, 2011, 11:40 AM
Samsung Changes Galaxy Tab Design for Germany to Try to Avoid Ban
November 17, 2011, 10:26 AM
Samsung Posts Massive Quarter, Sells 65 Percent More Phones Than Apple
October 28, 2011, 4:15 PM
Master of Unlocking: Apple Patents Swipe-to-Unlock Despite Prior Art
October 26, 2011, 3:27 PM
Samsung Modifies Its Hardware, Software to Try to Appease Apple
October 20, 2011, 6:00 PM
Retiree Sues Apple For $7,500 for Wiping Honeymoon Photos From His iPhone
November 30, 2015, 10:23 AM
iPhone 7 May Pack 3-4 GB Memory, More Storage; 4-Inch Comeback is Rumored
November 20, 2015, 10:12 PM
OnePlus One, OnePlus 2 Will Receive Android Marshmallow in Q1 2016
November 16, 2015, 9:58 AM
Lenovo Whoa: Motorola Droid MAXX 2 and Turbo 2 Break Cover in Leaks
October 26, 2015, 3:12 PM
Leak: Apple Preps for First Real Android App Foray With New Apple Music App
October 24, 2015, 1:59 PM
Pepsi Smartphone? Empty Calories Coming Soon to the Midrange
October 12, 2015, 11:41 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information