US judge lifts Samsung tablets ban, holds bond
AFP Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
SAN FRANCISCO--A judge on Monday lifted a ban on U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 computers as the South Korean firm added Apple's new iPhone 5 to a patent brawl between the two market rivals.
U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh issued an order clearing the way for Samsung to restart sales of the Tab 10.1 tablets that were halted while it dueled with Apple in a high-stakes trial.
A jury declared on August 24 that Samsung should pay Apple US$1.049 billion in damages for illegally copying iPhone and iPad features, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades — a verdict that could have huge market repercussions.
However, the jury agreed that Samsung did not abuse design patents that were the grounds for a temporary ban on Galaxy Tab 10.1 imports, which Koh put in place at Apple's behest in June.
"The sole basis for the June 26 preliminary injunction no longer exists," Koh wrote in her ruling. "The court finds it proper to dissolve the injunction."
In a statement, Samsung welcomed the ruling, saying it "vindicates our position that there was no infringement of Apple's design patent and that an injunction was not called for."
However, Koh denied a request by Samsung for US$2.6 million that Apple had posted as a bond to "pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained."
The court will hold onto the bond cash pending resolution of post-verdict legal motions that could bear on whether the ban was a wrongful restraint.
Koh is on record noting that the August jury verdict in her San Jose, California, courtroom did not represent a "final ruling" in the case since it was being appealed.
Samsung reacted by saying the verdict was "a loss" for consumers and that Apple had "manipulated" the patent system.
Meanwhile, Samsung said Tuesday that it had added Apple's new iPhone 5 to a list of products it believes infringe its patents in a second case the two smartphone giants are fighting in the same California court.
"We have always preferred to compete in the marketplace with our innovative products, rather than in courtrooms," Samsung said.
"However, Apple continues to take aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition. Under these circumstances, we have little choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our innovations," it added.
The new iPhone went on sale around the world last month and enjoyed a record launch weekend, with sales topping five million.
Samsung and Apple — respectively the world's number one and two smartphone makers — have been at loggerheads over dozens of patent lawsuits in 10 nations, accusing each other of copying technologies and designs.
The August verdict in California affected a range of Samsung products, including some of its popular Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung has steadfastly denied the patent infringement charges by Apple, claiming it developed its devices independently. It unsuccessfully argued that Apple infringed on its wireless patents.
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