San Francisco, CA – A federal district court judge has rejected Apple’s request for a permanent sales ban in the US against some older Samsung smartphones.
The judge ruled that Apple had not presented enough evidence to show that its patented features were a significant enough driver of consumer demand to warrant an injunction.
Apple and mega-rival Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have been litigating for nearly three years over various smartphone features patented by Apple, such as the use of fingers to pinch and zoom on the screen, as well as design elements such as the phone’s flat, black glass screen.
Apple was awarded more than $900 million by US juries, but the iPhone maker has failed to sustain a permanent sales ban against Samsung. The Korean company earned $7.7 billion last quarter, according to its corporate website.
In a statement, Samsung said it was pleased with the ruling. “We agree with its observation that a few software features alone don’t drive consumer demand for Samsung products – rather consumers value a multitude of features,” the company said.
Even though Samsung no longer sells the older-model phones targeted by the injunction request, Apple has argued in court documents that such an order is important to prevent Samsung from future copying with new products “not more colorably different” than the defunct models.
Samsung, meanwhile, argued that Apple was trying to target new Samsung phones in order to instill fear and uncertainty among carriers and retailers.
Samsung’s phones use the Android operating system, developed by US-based Google.
A Northern California jury found that Samsung infringed several Apple patents after a widely watched 2012 trial. Following the trial, the judge rejected Apple’s request for a sales ban, but in November, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered her to reconsider Apple’s evidence of market demand.
According to the judge’s finding, Apple “likely inflated” the value that customers place on the patented smartphone features in dispute.
“A multitude of other survey evidence not prepared for the purpose of litigation indicates that numerous features that were not tested — such as battery life, MP3 player functionality, operating system, text messaging options, GPS, and processor speed — are highly important to consumers,” the judge wrote.
Apple, the judge ruled, “must demonstrate more than an insignificant amount of lost sales due to Samsung’s copying and Apple’s survey is “unpersuasive” evidence on that point.