Apple secures preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Well it appears that Apple's ongoing legal battle with Samsung is starting to pay off dividends in a big way. Yesterday evening, U.S District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Well it appears that Apple's ongoing legal battle with Samsung is starting to pay off dividends in a big way. Yesterday evening, U.S District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

“Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly by flooding the market with infringing products,” Koh explained in her order. “While Samsung will certainly suffer lost sales from the issuance of an injunction, the hardship to Apple of having to directly compete with Samsung’s infringing products outweighs Samsung’s harm in light of the previous findings by the Court.”

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The preliminary injunction is a huge win for Apple, and while Samsung will of course appeal the ruling, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, in the interim, will be pulled off of the shelves. All Things D notes that the order will go into effect once Apple posts a $2.6 million bond to be paid should the injunction later be found to have been granted erroneously.

Note that the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the tablet subject to the injunction, was released last year while the recently released Galaxy Tab 10.1 II remains unaffected. Nonetheless, the fact that Apple was able to secure an injunction for the first time against a Samsung product is no small thing and should certainly have the South Korean based electronics giant just a tad worried.

The patent at the root of the injunction is US patent D504,889 which speaks to the ornamental design of the iPad. While Samsung argued that the design of a tablet is just one of many considerations that go into a consumer's purchase decision, Koh, while noting that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is virtually indistiguishable from the iPad, explained that "design is an important driver in the demand for tablet sales."

The ruling reads in part:

Apple has established a strong case on the merits. This Court already found that Samsung’sproducts are “virtually indistinguishable” from Apple’s products, and that the Galaxy Tab 10.1likely infringed on the D’889 Patent.

Moreover, this Court previously found that Apple had shownthat it was likely to suffer irreparable harm from the sales of Samsung’s infringing tablets because:(1) Apple and Samsung were direct competitors, (2) together the two companies held a relativelylarge market share, with few other competitors in the relevant market; and (3) design mattered more to customers in making tablet purchases, establishing the requisite nexus.

The patent refers to the ornamental design of the device. The court previously found the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be substantially similar "in the eyes of the ordinary observer" to the D'889, the Judge said. It noted that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is "virtually indistinguishable" from Apple's iPad and iPad 2, she added.

Apple and Samsung have both commented on the ruling with Apple stating, "This kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we’ve said many times before, we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”

Samsung meanwhile issued the following statement: “Apple sought a preliminary injunction of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, based on a single design patent that addressed just one aspect of the product’s overall design. Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted.

Lastly, the fact that the preliminary injunction was granted on account of a design patent should be particularly worrisome for Samsung to the extent that if this was software based, Samsung could simply engineer around Apple's software patents. But with this design patent, the very shape and design of Samsung's product is at issue.

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