Apple Wins Review of Alleged Patent Violation by Samsung

Posted on: May 14, 2012

Apple Wins Bid to Pursue Samsung Tablet Ban

A Federal Appeals Court ruled today that Apple could proceed with a legal claim that Samsung’s tablets violate patents held by Apple. 

Apple had initially filed suit in in April of 2011 alleging that Samsung was infringing on 4 patents that Apple holds that relate to the iPhone and iPad products. In that case, the trial court denied Apple’s request that the court block Samsung’s offending devices from being imported and sold within the United States.

The trial court had denied Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction based on the fact the in the trial judge’s view Apple was unlikely to succeed on the merits on two of the patents and was unlikely to suffer “irreparable harm” on the other two at issue.’

The specific patent at issue was Apple’s patent which is directed at the design of a tablet computer. Fundamentally, that patent is for a rectangular design with four rounded corners. Samsung had argued that an obscure 1994 patent for an early prototype tablet computer had obviated Apple’s patent on a rectangular tablet computer, therefore making Apple unlikely to succeed on the merits. Specifically, the court held that:

. . .We hold that the district court erred in finding that the Fidler tablet created the same visual impression as the D’889 patent. A side-by-side comparison of the two designs shows substantial differences in the overall visual appearance between the patented design and the Fidler reference 

Ultimately, the Appellate court concluded that the trial court erred in its reasoning for denying the injunction, vacated the decision and instructed the trial court to reconsider the issue based on their analysis.

The Samsung lawsuit is the largest in a global push by Apple to limit sales of both phones and tablets that run on Google’s Android operating system. Apple also has legal action pending against HTC and Motorola.

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