updated 07:50 pm EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
US says Samsung infringes but not ban worthy
Federal court Judge Lucy Koh on Thursday tentatively denied some of Apple's calls for a preliminary US ban on Samsung devices. She believed there wasn't enough of an urgent case to ban the hardware based on a "utility" patent but hadn't issued a definitive verdict on three design-related patents. Apple might have trouble proving the patents were violated, she said.
Koh also wasn't convinced Apple couldn't just recoup any lost damages at the trial itself.
In spite of the apparent relief, Koh made it clear she was likely to side with Apple in the long term. She believed Galaxy Tab models "do infringe" on patents relating to the iPad, even if Apple couldn't prove validity at this stage. In comparing the two, she rejected the common argument of Samsung supporters that it was hard to distinguish a tablet, pointing to the tapered edges and very thin design.
Samsung encountered an embarrassing and potentially telling moment at the start of the San Jose hearing, according to eyewitness Dan Levine. Holding both the iPad and Galaxy Tab 10.1 over her head, Koh asked Samsung's attorneys to guess which one was which. It "took them a while" to get the right answer, Levine said.
The momentary victory could be important for Samsung, which just lost an Australian decision and is now banned from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country unless it wins a full trial. Koh's disposition does hurt Samsung's chances, however, and even one determination that a preliminary ban was necessary could stop sales of multiple Samsung devices.