Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction against U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, the tablet deemed by many as the leading challenger to the iPad.
The ruling was handed down today by judge Lucy Koh for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, according to a Reuters report. Her order will take effect once Apple posts a $2.6 million bond to protect Samsung if the injunction is later found to have been unnecessary.
"Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products," Koh wrote on Tuesday.
An Apple spokesperson responded to the ruling by reiterating an earlier statement made in the case, saying that "this kind of blatant copying is wrong and, as we've said many times before, we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."
CNET has also contacted Samsung for comment and will update this report when we learn more.
Apple has been trying desperately to secure a U.S. ban on Samsung's Android-powered tablet. Apple scored a win last October when Koh ruled that Samsung's line of Galaxy tablets infringe on Apple's patents. However, she declined to grant a request to ban the device from import last December, concluding that allowing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 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.
Apple got another chance at an injunction last month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Koh was incorrect in thinking that an Apple patent related to the iPad may be invalid and that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company was well within its rights to ask for a ban on sales of the device.
Apple is also seeking a ban on the sale of the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone in the U.S., but that effort was tabled earlier this month by Koh, who decided there were already enough issues to consider at the June 21 hearing.
This long-running legal confrontation began in April 2011 when Apple filed a lawsuit in California accusing Samsung of copying "the look and feel" of its iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone. 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.
Koh ordered the CEOs of Apple and Samsung to meet face to face to try to pare down the number of claims each plans to make in their intellectual-property lawsuits against each other to make it more manageable for a jury. Apple and Samsung each dropped a number of patent complaints as a result of the order.
The case is scheduled to go to trial on July 30.
Updated at 7:30 p.m. PT with additional details of the ruling and at 7:55 p.m. with Apple comment.