A San Francisco judge has ordered Samsung to cease selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer, caving to Apple’s claim that the Galaxy is a “copy” of the famed iPad.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh stated that Apple had “established a strong case on the merits.” The judge stated earlier in the case that the two products were “virtually indistinguishable,” but she didn’t go to the extent of ordering Samsung to stop selling theirs until now. The change in course came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit told Koh to take another gander at Apple’s claims, ruling in June that the company had a “strong case.”
“Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products,” Koh wrote in the decision.
Apple is now to post a $2.6 million bond in the event that it ultimately loses the case, but this ruling looks good for the Cupertino tech giant. The bond is to protect against damages suffered by Samsung should the injunction be reversed at a later date.
This comes as a big victory for Apple, a company that has made no bones about chasing down patents and firing up patent wars since 2010. Apple has been trying to limit the spread of Android, its main competitor from an operating system standpoint, and this injunction will certainly help matters.
“The relief being given to Apple here is extraordinary. Preliminary injunctions are rarely asked for and rarely granted,” said Colleen Chien, a professor at Santa Clara Law in Silicon Valley. “That this was a design patent and copying was alleged distinguish this case from plain vanilla utility patent cases. Cases involving these kinds of patents are based more on a counterfeiting theory than a competition theory, so I don’t expect this case to have ramifications for all smartphone disputes, but rather those involving design patents and the kind of product resemblance we had here.”
Samsung is expected to take things to the appeals process. They stated that Apple sought the injunction based on “a single design patent that addressed just one aspect of the product’s overall design.” They also zeroed in on a very realistic fear in these sorts of patent lawsuits: “Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted.”
Apple, however, maintains that Samsung “blatantly” copied the iPad with its Galaxy tablet. The company recently had its lawsuit against Motorola tossed out by a U.S. federal court.