Judge Lucy Koh has ruled in advance of the scheduled hearing over Apple’s request for a ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Her decision, released in the last hour, has followed the appeals court determination that she revisit her previous finding that a temporary injunction was unjustified on the basis that the patent allegedly infringed upon was likely to be found valid, contradicting Judge Koh’s view of that same patent.
The patent in question is the “design” one that's commonly known as “black rectangle with rounded corners” in the blogosphere. Assuming that the patent’s validity would be upheld, the appeals court found that the District Court Judge, having acknowledged Samsung to have infringed it by marketing a device “virtually indistinguishable” from Apple’s iPad, should reconsider the case for injunctive relief.
Which brings us back to today’s announcement, and the imminent ban on import and sales of the Tab 10.1 within the US. Apple simply has to post the court-ordered bond of $2.6 million in order for the ban to be enforced. By the time I finish typing this update, the bond is sure to have been lodged with the court and sales of Samsung’s tablet will have ceased in America.
An interesting component of this action is that Judge Koh, while agreeing that the Tab did indeed infringe Apple’s ludicrously broad patent claim, found it likely that the patent would be found invalid, thus Apple was originally denied its injunction request in December when the initial ban was sought by Apple. The Federal Circuit court on the other hand believed that the patent was more likely to be found valid.
Faced with the overruling of her previous conclusion, Judge Koh had no alternative but to apply her previous finding of infringement of what had then become a likely valid patent, and finding that as a result of that direction, she could only rule in favour of Apple as patent holder. Thus the injunction was granted.
It’s unclear as to what Samsung’s next move will be in this suit. The Federal Circuit has shown that they will not rule favourably for Samsung despite the Tab maker’s argument that there was prior art for the look and feel of the iPad, and the evidence presented that such prior art existed. It would appear that even if Samsung were to successfully argue their case in Judge Koh’s courtroom, Apple’s automatic appeal of that verdict would send it back to a court already predisposed to rule against Samsung.
Given that likelihood, continuing the case would seem to be against Samsung’s interests and the wise course would be to concede the suit and start selling the Tab 10.1’s successor in the States instead. Apple will of course attempt to have that device banned as well, but that’s the way they do business.
So it's looking like a major win for Apple. Meanwhile, perhaps there should be a pool on the next competitor tablet Apple will use this patent against. Any takers?