In the ongoing global patent battle between Apple and Samsung over smartphones and tablets, a U.S. judge has denied Apple a preliminary injunction that would have temporarily prevented Samsung from selling four of its devices in the United States.
In a ruling issued late Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided that allowing Samsung's Galaxy S 4G, Infuse 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 devices to remain on sale would not harm Apple enough to justify the injunction. She also said such an injunction would likely benefit other gadget makers at Samsung's expense.
In an around-the-world-in-80-lawsuits scenario, Apple has been arguing that Samsung's products infringe its design patents and copy the iPhone and the iPad. Samsung, meanwhile, has fired back with its own patent-related claims against Apple. In addition to the U.S., the battle has touched down in Australia; the Netherlands; Germany; parts of Asia, and France and Italy; among other places.
In a statement about Friday's ruling, reported by PCMag.com, Samsung said Koh's decision on the preliminary injunction "confirms our long-held view that Apple's arguments lack merit. In particular, the court has recognized that Samsung has raised substantial questions about the validity of certain Apple design patents. We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung's mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year. We will continue to assert our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple's claims to ensure our continued ability to provide innovative mobile products to consumers."
As noted by PCMag, Koh didn't buy all of Apple's design complaints. For example, she said in respect to smartphones that "a size that can be handheld, a screen that encompasses a large portion of the front face of the smartphone, and a speaker on the upper portion of the front face of the product" are not necessarily aesthetic features but functional ones that would make sense, and be legally allowable, on phones from Apple competitors.
Despite Friday's ruling, Apple could still win the overall lawsuit. Samsung, though, might be able to tweak its gadgets to sidestep the patent issues and continue selling its devices--a strategy the company is currently trying in Germany.
So far, it doesn't appear that Apple has issued an official statement on Koh's refusal to grant the preliminary injunction. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet referred Reuters to previous Apple statements about the case and told the news agency that Samsung's "blatant copying is wrong."
The full U.S. case goes to court July 30, 2012.