updated 05:30 pm EDT, Sat May 19, 2012
Apple may help achieve hat-trick of import bans
On the heels of an appeals court win that suggested that Samsung should have been barred from selling its copycat Galaxy Tab 10.1 from the get-go, Apple has now filed a motion for a new injunction against the tablet asking it to be pulled from US shelves. The two companies are scheduled to begin high-level settlement talks on Monday, but should they fail the new injunction request could be ruled on as early as June 7.
Apple won a similar ban in Germany on the original Galaxy Tab 10.1, forcing Samsung to make design changes that were judged sufficiently different to be able to avoid the injunction. That resulting product, the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, is not sold in the US and most other countries. There are already ITC US import bans in place against two of HTC's phones and some of Motorola's Android devices.
Apple won the reversal on Tuesday, which vacated Judge Lucy Koh's original ruling that there was no merit to Apple's copyright complaint regarding the iPad (the ruling on the iPhone portion of the case was left intact). Indeed, one of the three judges in the appeal, Circuit Judge Kathleen O'Malley, went so far as to issue a dissenting opinion from the other judges, saying that Apple should be granted an immediate injunction, and that Apple has been harmed by Samsung being allowed to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1, according to patent court observer Florian Mueller.
The other two judges said simply that the matter should go back to the original court for review, since Judge Koh had never ruled on the iPad design patent (since it had previously been deemed invalid). Judge Koh is currently overseeing the settlement talks between Apple and Samsung, and will not take action on the matter until those talks are completed. Should those talks fail to produce a settlement, Samsung has until May 25th to produce a response to the injunction request, and Judge Koh may schedule it for June 7, the same date a separate injunction request against the Galaxy Nexus is scheduled to be heard.
The rulings are not expected to have much impact on either Apple's or Samsung's overall sales, but do clarify Apple's design rights -- and so far, the iPad maker has been largely successful in putting pressure on Android firms to redesign their products to be distinct from Apple's. Regardless of how the rest of the case goes, a redesign of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to avoid Apple patents is likely. [via Florian Mueller]
iPad (top) vs. Galaxy Tab 10.1N (bottom)