Apple will not be allowed to permanently block sale of 26 models of older Samsung smartphones, in the aftermath of a patent infringement trial, a federal judge in San Jose ruled Monday.
“Samsung may have cut into Apple’s customer base somewhat, but there is no suggestion that Samsung will wipe out Apple’s customer base, or force Apple out of the business of making smartphones,” wrote Judge Lucy Koh in denying the injunction.
A federal jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages in August after it concluded that Samsung copied features of the iPhone and iPad, infringing on six utility and design patents.
The lawsuit alleged infringement of several Apple patents and dilution of Apple’s trade dress (essentially the look and feel of Apple iPhones). The jury found Samsung infringed some patents and trade dress.
Even so, Samsung says it does not currently sell 23 of the 26 models at issue in this dispute.
Following that verdict, Apple asked Koh to issue a permanent injunction against Samsung sales of earlier versions of its phones.
Koh said in her 23-page ruling that the dispute is about “lost sales – not a lost ability to be a viable market participant.”
She ruled Apple failed to show that it suffered irreparable harm in the form of erosion of its distinctive design and irreversible loss of market share and loss of customers.
While Apple may have suffered some loss of market share, “Apple had not established that Samsung’s infringement of Apple’s design patents caused that loss,” she wrote.
Apple had sought to block Samsung’s importation of the specific phone models into the U.S. for sale.
Given that Samsung can afford to pay the $1 billion damage award, Apple has show no hardship it will face without the injunction, Koh said. Even Apple’s argument that Samsung’s action was “willful” failed. “An injunction… may not be used as a punishment,” she said.
Case: Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics, Ltd., No. 11-cv-1846LHK