U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh todays said that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets do infringe on Apple’s patents, reports Dan Levine for Reuters. The statements came in a hearing today about Apple’s proposed injunction against the sale of Samsung tablets in the U.S.
Koh said that Apple might have a problem proving that its patents in the US are valid, however and that she would not grand a request for an injunction based off of a ‘utility’ patent, which would be one related to a specific feature or function of the tablets. Apple is also requesting the injunction based on several design patents though, which, if proved valid, could form the basis for banning the sale of Samsung’s tablets.
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Apparently the session was fairly eventful and had Koh dancing around exposing confidential information about the companies’ upcoming and existing products. She questioned whether Apple would be ‘irreparably’ harmed if she didn’t grant the injunction, asking Apple if it couldn’t just recoup its losses at the pending trial.
At one point, Koh held both tablets over her head and asked the lawyers from Samsung and Apple to tell her which one was which. Levine says that it “took them a while to do so.”
She kept stating how similar the two tablets appeared with regards to thinness and sloping edges.
The technical patents that Apple is asserting in the case include U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, a touch screen patent, U.S. Patent No. RE41,922 that patents the equipment and practices used for “providing translucent images on a computer display”, U.S. Patent No. 7,863,533, a patent that refers to a switch similar to the one that the iPhone uses for volume, U.S. Patent No, 7,789,697 and U.S. Patent N. 7,912,501 which refer to the way that Apple’s devices autodetect devices being plugged into a headset jack.
The legal back and forth between Apple and Samsung continues but the basics are that each company is matching the other move-for-move. Apple’s complaint with the ITC is a mirror of the complaint filed by Samsung to block the import of Apple’s iPhone and iPad. This is an additional bit of legal action that compliments Apple’s application for a motion for preliminary injunction against the sale of Samsung products like the Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1 until a patent infringement trial can be held.
This complaint effectively gives Apple two different avenues by which it can block the sale of Samsung devices in the US, by import via the ITC or in the civil courts by means of the motion for injunction, which Apple and Samsung have been instructed to set a timeline for that they can both agree on.
Samsung says that “There is no legal basis for [the motion for injunction] by Apple.” and that, “We will continue to serve our customers and sales of Samsung products will proceed as usual.”
So at this point Koh says that she will not grant an injunction against the Galaxy devices based on one of those technical patents, even though she says that they do infringe on Apple’s patents. It is unclear whether she will do so on any of the design patents yet.