In an admission that it fears for its iPhone’s continued success in the marketplace, Apple pleaded with a Californian court to prevent the Samsung Galaxy S III launching in the US. Citing the well publicized nine million plus pre-orders for Samsung’s latest, Apple’s legal team requested leave to apply for TRO injunctive relief, a ban order that they hoped would be in place prior to the Galaxy S III’s simultaneous launch across virtually all the US carriers.
A Temporary Restraining Order seems to be an emergency procedure, able to be invoked where a formal injunction has already been sought and the object of that injunction is likely to go on sale despite the legal process in train. The Judge would then rule on whether it was reasonable for the party requesting the injunction to expect their action to succeed.
Judge Koh agreed to hear Apple’s plea for the TRO, but her schedule was unable to accommodate the hearing until after the Galaxy S III launch date, June 21st, and she also made it clear to Apple’s legal beagles that it would also mean the patent suit that the injunction was part of would be delayed a month or more in consequence.
On hearing that ruling, Apple decided that a TRO wasn’t necessary after all, and the Judge will not rule on the matter, effectively kicking the TRO to touch. Since it was in Apple’s court to decide whether or not to continue and they chose not to, there can now be no appeal.
This now-negated threat to the successful US launch of the Galaxy S III came about through an entirely different patent suit Apple is trying against Samsung in Judge Koh’s court. The action involves two patents that Apple alleges several of Samsung’s mobile devices infringe – one of which is the laughable “swipe to unlock” patent. How that patent ever came to be issued to Apple is a mystery, and an indictment of the state of patents in the US and Europe.
Judge Koh has already ruled that Samsung didn’t infringe but Apple applied to the US Court of Appeals over that ruling. The court found that Judge Koh was correct in all but two of the alleged infringements, and instructed her to reconsider those two remaining. The court did not, however, find Judge Koh in error with her rulings – she has been requested to re-examine the rationale for her decisions, which she has undertaken to do. That’s where the case lies at present.
Apple, in a move that reeks of panic and desperation, had attempted to add the Galaxy S III to this existing action, claiming that the S3 is simply an evolution of an almost identical Galaxy Nexus, and claiming their examination of a European spec S3 showed that it almost certainly infringed the patents at question. However, they didn’t explain how they could know for certain that the yet-to-be-released US spec S3s were identical to the Euro version, so any case for injunction based on that argument seemed fatally flawed even before it was heard.
For its part, Samsung has rejected the notion of the Galaxy S III being included in the current action, citing lack of warning, insufficient time to properly prepare and the lack of merit of Apple’s claims. So the good news for US customers is that, as confidently stated by Samsung prior to this latest decision, the Galaxy S III launch will go ahead on schedule. Apple will have to suck it up this time, but there is no doubt that their ‘marketing by litigation’ strategy will continue regardless.
The question is how long will the US legal system let Apple continue to make it part of the Cupertino Colossus’s marketing department?