US court bans the sale of some Samsung phones at Apple's request

The sales ban is an offshoot of a patent dispute between Samsung and Apple

Generic court image
Credit: IDGNS

A federal court in California has banned the sale in the U.S. of Samsung smartphones that have features that infringe three patents owned by Apple.

On Monday, Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that the permanent injunction would come into effect 30 days after the entry of the order. The ban covers the implementation of features like the "slide-to-unlock" and auto word correction capabilities in some of Samsung's earlier phones.

The smartphones covered under the order include Samsung’s 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 Stratosphere products, which are Samsung's older smartphones.

Judge Koh's order also banned from sale "software or code capable of implementing any Infringing Feature, and/or any feature not more than colorably different therefrom."

The court had earlier issued a summary judgment that Samsung infringed the patent relating to the autocorrect feature. A jury then found that Samsung also infringed two other patents, including one that covered the slide-to-unlock feature, and awarded Apple damages of US$119.6 million for all infringed patents.

The decision by Judge Koh is significant as Apple has just begun to get benefits from its litigation against Samsung in the California court. The Judge had earlier refused to issue a permanent injunction saying that Apple had not shown it would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, however, vacated her decision and remanded it back to the lower court for further proceedings.

In another patent infringement lawsuit in the same court, Samsung has paid up conditionally $548 million, which is a part of the damages award by a jury in another case in the California court for infringement of both Apple's utility and design patents. Samsung contested the damages after the claims of one of the patents, the 'pinch-to-zoom' patent that Apple has asserted, was found invalid by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to a Samsung filing.

Samsung is also asking the Supreme Court to review the principle for award of damages on design patents and has got support from some tech companies on this issue. The award included all of Samsung’s profits from infringing products even though the patented designs are only minor features of those products, the company has argued.

An earlier decision of the Federal Circuit "gives the inventor of a 'discovery' claimed in a fairly narrow design patent the right to the profits made on a complex device that is the result of literally thousands of separate, patented, innovations," industry trade body  Computer & Communications Industry Association pointed out in its filing to the Supreme Court on Friday.

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