Apple Denied Sales Ban on Samsung Products
SAN JOSE (CN) - Samsung's smartphones and tablets will remain on store shelves despite a jury finding of infringement of Apple patents, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
After U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh found that Samsung infringed Apple's '172 patent, regarding display of the autocorrect function, an eight-person jury found earlier this year that all of Samsung's latest gadgets infringed Apple's '647 "quick links" patent, and that some copied "slide-to-lock" technology.
The jury awarded Apple just $119.6 million, a far cry from the $2.2 billion the Cupertino, Calif.-based company had demanded.
Koh on Wednesday dashed Apple's hopes for a sales ban on Samsung's offending products - finding the company had not proven Samsung has caused irreparable harm to either its reputation as an innovator or to its business outlook.
"While Apple has presented significant evidence about the strength of its reputation and the intensity of the parties' competition, the court finds that Apple has not satisfied its burden of establishing irreparable reputational harm due to Samsung's infringing use of patented features," Koh wrote. "The testimony tends to show that Apple is recognized for innovation, and that Samsung and Apple are 'fierce' competitors. However, this evidence does not indicate that Apple's reputation suffered as a result of Samsung's infringement. Apple's counsel did not identify any other evidence of reputational harm. Apple does not provide (for example) any surveys to establish that consumers have begun to question Apple's role as an innovator or have difficulty differentiating Samsung and Apple products due to the infringing features." [Parentheses in original.]
Koh noted - as Samsung had during argument - that Apple's reputation remains robust even after hiccups like " AntennaGate " and its heavily criticized map application in iOS 6. Apple also failed to show that consumers had or will associate its innovations with Samsung's "less prestigious" products, according to the ruling.
Given the years of global litigation and high-profile cases, Koh said an injunction would do nothing to further enhance Apple's image as an enforcer of its intellectual property rights.
As to market share and downstream sales, Koh said Apple failed to show that customers choose to buy Samsung smartphones and tablets for the infringing features. While Apple's past and future lost sales are admittedly difficult to quantify, that does not justify a permanent sales ban on Samsung products, the court found.
"To award an injunction to Apple in these circumstances would ignore the Federal Circuit's warning that a patentee may not 'leverage its patent for competitive gain beyond that which the inventive contribution and value of the patent warrant,'" Koh wrote, citing that court's Apple II opinion. "The court ultimately finds that - despite Apple's apparent unwillingness to license the patents-in-suit to Samsung - monetary remedies would more appropriately remedy Samsung's infringement than would an injunction."
Although Samsung's open admission that it could "easily" design around the copied patents and that the public's interest in stopping patent infringement favored Apple, those factors are not enough to tip the scales toward a permanent sales ban, Koh said.
"These factors do not overcome the lack of irreparable harm," the judge concluded.
Both companies continue to fight their U.S. battles in the Federal Circuit but agreed earlier this month to end their contentious feud elsewhere across the globe. The companies also reiterated that the agreement does not equal licensing arrangements.