updated 08:25 am EDT, Wed June 22, 2011
Samsung denied request to see future iPhone, iPad
Samsung late Tuesday was given a quick rejection of its motion to look at future iPads and iPhones. Judge Lucy Koh agreed that both sides had equal chances at discovery but that Samsung didn't have a right to look at unannounced prototype versions of products. It had no proof of when Apple would release new products, and the very claim was that Samsung was copying Apple technology, putting the burden of defense on Samsung and not Apple.
"Common sense suggests that allegations of copying are necessarily directed at Apple's existing products, to which Samsung has access and could potentially mimic, and not at Apple's unreleased, inaccessible, next generation products," the judge wrote.
Apple's motion for discovery was far more reasonable, the Judge said. Of the five products it wanted to see, three had already been released before a court deadline. Virtually all of them are already shipping in some place in the world, and Samsung may have sabotaged its own argument both by its usual practice, of announcing months in advance of the actual release, and by shipping the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to Google I/O attendees a month before the general public.
Samsung could still raise future iPads and iPhones in opposing any attempt at a preliminary ban on shipping its products. If the Korean company can persuade the court that the current Apple products will be the upcoming iOS devices and not existing hardware, it may avert shipping problems. A significantly different iPhone or iPad design could limit the scope of Apple's claims to only some of its trade dress and trademarks.
One or more of the new designs could still come up in court but may not be part of a preliminary motion until the next iPhone is released in its presumed September ship date, by which point they wouldn't be secrets. Apple also has the option of calling for bans only relating to products as they become available, leaving tablets out of concern in the short term.
The Samsung claim may have been knowingly unrealistic and was widely suspected of being a delaying tactic meant to force a court battle until new iPads and iPhones became public matters. [via Florian Mueller]