Apple has been dealt a significant setback in its legal case against Samsung after Judge Lucy Koh denied it a request for a permanent sales ban on 26 Samsung devices that it believes infringe upon its patents following a jury decision in August, FOSS Patents reports.

That is a huge deal for Samsung — which has avoided a potential sales ban during the lucrative Christmas period — but it isn’t all positive as the judge denied Samsung’s request for a retrial, thus upholding that August decision which handed the company a fine of more than $1 billion.

The company had claimed jury misconduct had affected the decision and a number of factors suggested that it may have a case, as highlighted by Groklaw back in August:

For just one example, the jury had said one device didn’t infringe, but then they awarded Apple $2 million for inducement. In another they awarded a couple of hundred thousand for a device they’d ruled didn’t infringe at all.

Apple initially sought US sales injunctions against eight of Samsung’s devices, but, over the intervening period, it added a further 18 of the Korean company’s products to the list.

The US firm is almost certain to appeal this new decision, meaning that the battle will continue into 2013 and Samsung may yet face potentially significant sales bans in the American market.

To add further context, Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents explains that the decision “may be unprecedented”, and it could be longer than a year until the next decision is made:

It may be unprecedented in the legal history of the United States for an injunction motion to be denied across the board despite such a large number of infringement findings (roughly half a dozen) by a jury and, especially, in light of the competitive situation between the two as well as the jury’s findings of willful infringement. [An] appeal will take a year or more, and in the meantime, this is a huge defensive success for Samsung’s lawyers.

We’ve reached out to Samsung and Apple for comment.

A Samsung spokesperson told us: “We are pleased that the judge today denied Apple’s move to limit consumer choice, and restrict fair competition in the marketplace.”

Image via jasonrphotography / Flickr