U.S. court gives Apple a win in one patent suit

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U.S. court gives Apple a win in one patent suit

Apple, maker of the iPhone and iPad, can pursue efforts to win a sales halt of Samsung Electronics’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the U.S. while a patent-infringement case is pending, a U.S. appeals court ruled.

Apple’s patent on a design of the tablet is likely to withstand validity challenges, so the trial judge should consider imposing an order that would block sales until a trial can be held, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled today. The court upheld the trial judge’s rejection of a ban on Samsung products based on three other Apple patents.

The Samsung dispute is the biggest front in Apple’s efforts to curtail growth of phones that run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, the most popular platform for mobile devices. Apple contends Android devices have copied features that make the iPhone and iPad unique, and it has filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility Holdings.

All three companies have filed their own patent cases against Apple, creating a global war over share of a market that researcher Gartner Inc. said increased 47 percent in the fourth quarter to 149 million units worldwide.

The Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker contends Samsung has copied the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad to lure away customers.

Apple and Samsung vie for the title of world’s largest maker of smartphones. Apple had 23.9 percent of the global market in the fourth quarter, while Samsung was No. 2 with 23.5 percent, according to data from Boston-based researcher Strategy Analytics.

In the tablet market, Apple had 58 percent in the fourth quarter, while Android products, which include Amazon.com, Inc.’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook readers, had 39 percent, the analyst group said.

The case ruled on today is one of more than 30 filed in 10 countries between Samsung and Apple. Samsung was forced to delay the release of some Galaxy devices or alter the product in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia because of the legal battle.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said in December that Samsung had raised a substantial question of invalidity of Apple’s tablet patent. Samsung argued the tablet design was an obvious variation of tablets that existed as early as 1994, including one made by Hewlett-Packard.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said there were substantial differences between the Apple design and earlier readers whose only comparison was that they were rectangular tablets with four evenly rounded corners and a flat back.

“Rather than looking to the ‘general concept’ of a tablet, the District Court should have focused on the distinctive ‘visual appearances’ of the reference and the claimed design,” the court ruled.
Bloomberg

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