updated 04:03 pm EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Motion involved infamous 'slide to unlock' patent, others
The US District Court for the Northern District of California has again denied Apple a permanent injunction against Samsung products accused of violating three of its patents. Although the court and a jury found that Samsung did indeed infringe Apple IP -- including the famous "slide to unlock" patent -- the judge in the case, Lucy Koh, explains that Apple couldn't show that an injunction was warranted. The ruling is related to one of the post-trial motions stemming from the second Apple-Samsung patent trial. Koh also denied any injunctions on products found guilty of infringing from the first trial as well.
She rejects, for instance, an Apple assertion that claimed reputational harm didn't require showing a "causal nexus" stemming from patent infringement. "Even if harm will be done to Apple's reputation, Apple is not entitled to an injunction if that harm originates from some source other than Samsung's infringing behavior," part of the ruling states. "For example, it is possible that Apple's reputation as an 'innovator' could be harmed if Samsung's noninfringing features are perceived as innovative, but that would not justify an injunction."
Likewise, Apple is also said to have been unable to prove that it will suffer irreparable harm if infringing products are left on the market, and that action should be taken simply because a company closely safeguards its patents and Samsung violated the patents. Infringing Samsung products in the case are said to include the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, Galaxy S III, and the Stratosphere.
Apple attempted to make its motion more viable by targeting specific features in nine devices. It also offered a "sunset period" to Samsung, which would've granted a chance to design around any infringing concepts.
Many if not most of the products in question are already outdated, rendering the matter largely moot -- but Apple wanted to set the precedent as a deterrent to future infringement. In consistently denying any sales injunctions even in the case of clear guilt, Judge Koh may in fact be sending, however inadvertently, the opposite message to Samsung and other companies.
In part this is not reflective of Judge Koh, but of the judicial process itself. Due to the short life-cycle of devices like smartphones, companies who infringe have little incentive to change their ways -- by the time even the first court trial is over, the infringing product has made its profits and is likely already off the market or will be by the time appeals are exhausted.
Previously, Judge Koh also denied Apple its attempt to recover attorneys' fees on top of the $120 million the jury awarded the company in the latest round of patent infringement. She did, however, rebuff Samsung's attempt to invalidate the patents it was found guilty of infringing.