WASHINGTON (CN) – Apple tried one more time to stop Samsung from selling phones and tablets before a July patent infringement trial, telling an appeals court that a federal judge in San Jose used the wrong legal standard to deny a preliminary injunction.
Samsung told the court that Apple’s patent infringement claims are too broad, and that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled correctly in December by refusing to stop sales of the Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G and Droid Charge smartphones, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer.
Koh’s order denying relief said that because Apple’s trade dress complaint seeks to protect design patents, her analysis of each side’s trial prospects focused “not on the function of these ubiquitous products, but on their visual characteristics.”
Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan made a similar point Friday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District.
“Design patents are of narrow scope and they cannot foreclose legitimate competition,” Sullivan said.
“Apple’s own construction of their design patent is so broad that they claim to have a monopoly on handheld, rectangular, rounded-cornered portable devices for multimedia,” said Sullivan, with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Sullivan said an injunction is unnecessary because the trial will start soon enough, and because Apple waited to file for a sales ban too long after Samsung began introducing products with features to which Apple objects.
Koh’s December order examined the likelihood Apple would succeed at trial in proving patent infringement, and whether Apple would be irreparably harmed without a preliminary injunction.
Apple attorney Michael Jacobs said Koh applied the wrong legal standard – that all Apple needed to secure injunctive relief was to show that Samsung had built infringing design features into products that compete with Apple’s, not whether consumers had chosen Samsung over Apple because of those features.
Jacobs, with Morrison Foerster, said the standard for infringement differs from that needed for an injunction: “In no case has this court said a plaintiff must show a tie, a nexus, between the infringement and the irreparable harm.”
Jacobs said the irreparable harm standard had been met by a circumstance of “head-to-head, aggressive competition built on infringement, built on patents that the district court held were likely valid and likely infringed.”
“Apple is looking for a little help from the intellectual property system. It is widely regarded as an innovative company and the designs here, as we demonstrated in the record, were regarded as beautiful. What we’re asking Samsung to do is stop copying,” Jacobs said.
Apple first accused Samsung of selling knockoff smartphones and tablet computers that “slavishly copy” iPhone and iPad products in April 2011.
The companies are locked in more than 20 legal battles worldwide over patent and design issues related to the blockbuster products.