In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. today ruled that Apple has the right to seek an injunction to prevent Samsung from using several smartphone features found to have infringed on Apple patents. In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court asserted that U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh erred in an earlier ruling against Apple’s request for an injunction against Samsung.
Part of today’s ruling is based on case law established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. In that case, involving a patent infringement challenge against eBay by a company called MercExchange, the court agreed unanimously that a party seeking a permanent injunction needed to meet several conditions, including that the public interest would not be disserved.
“Indeed, the public interest strongly favors an injunction,” Judge Kimberly Moore said in her opinion.
However, Judge Sharon Prost cast a dissenting vote. “I agree with the majority that the public’s interest in competition, without more, does not necessarily decide this factor against granting an injunction,” noted Prost. “But it does not follow that the public interest ‘nearly always’ favors granting an injunction as the majority states.”
In the Apple v. Samsung case, today’s appeals court decision found that the district court erred when it found that “two eBay factors weighed against an injunction.” The decision sends the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for reconsideration.
One Issue: ‘Slide to Unlock’
The battle between Apple and Samsung began in 2011, four years after Apple released its first iPhone. Apple obtained numerous patents prior to the iPhone’s release to protect multiple new technologies it had developed for the device, including a “slide-to-unlock” feature.
After Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement, alleging that the South Korea-based company had copied a number of its protected technologies, Samsung countersued in several courts around the world. At one point, more than 50 cases between the two companies were pending in various parts of the globe.
Most of the international complaints have since been settled and/or dismissed, but two cases remain active in the U.S. In the case now going back to the district court, a jury had awarded Apple nearly $120 million in damages but the judge denied the company’s request for a permanent injunction against Samsung.
Decision Recognizes ‘Investment-Backed Property Right’
Mark Nowotarski, a registered U.S. patent agent specializing in design patents who has written extensively about the Apple-Samsung disputes in the past, told us that today’s decision was an interesting one.
Samsung has indicated that it could implement technological workarounds to its phones that would enable it to avoid continued infringement on Apple’s patents. The 2-1 panel decision reflects that in its finding, Nowotarski said.
Another interesting part of the decision was Moore’s finding that “the public generally does not benefit when . . . competition comes at the expense of a patentee’s investment-backed property right,” he added. In saying that the court is recognizing the investments and risks that Apple undertook by spending billions of dollars to develop the iPhone, Nowotarski said.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.