Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction on the sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the U.S. by District Court Judge Lucy Koh, says Reuters legal reporter Dan Levine.

Levine says that Koh granted the injunction because “Apple has articulated a plausible theory of irreparable harm” due to a “long-term loss of market share” and “losses of downstream sales.” The injunction is in place pending a $96M bond that Apple must put up.

The ruling was based primarily on the 8086604 patent, which is defined as a “universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system.” The full patent is embedded below and appears to relate to a unified search tool that can be used to find a variety of different items via one indexed database. This could also refer to a unified spoken word interface like Siri, or Google’s voice search.

Screen Shot 2012 06 29 at 3.21.58 PM 520x687 Apple granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung Galaxy Nexus sales in U.S.

Apple’s request to have several products, including the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, blocked for sale in the U.S., but ended up getting one granted earlier this week.

Judge Koh had previously stated that Samsung did infringe on Apple’s patents, although she said that Apple might have a problem proving that they were valid in the U.S.. ”It is not clear that an injunction on Samsung’s accused devices,” said Koh in this ruling, “would prevent Apple from being irreparably harmed.”

In an earlier hearing, Koh seemed to be aware of the fact that the two devices were very similar in appearance. At one point, she held both tablets over her head and asked the lawyers from Samsung and Apple to tell her which one was which. Dan Levine, reporting for Reuters, said that it “took them a while to do so.”

Four patents in total are at play here. Among them is a claim of infringement was made on U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647, a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data.” This is one that Apple successfully used to win an International Trade Commission ban on the import of HTC devices which went into effect on April 19th, 2012. The ITC said in its statement that HTC will be able to ship replacement products for defect replacement and repairs thereafter.

Another is the infamous ‘slide to unlock’ patent, number 8046721 that Apple used to get an injunction placed on Motorola in Germany earlier this year.

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.

Earlier today, Judge Koh cleared Apple of infringement on one of three Samsung patents in an opposing suit brought by the Korean manufacturer. This makes three positive outcomes in one week for Apple.

Pat 8086604