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Apple fails to secure sales ban on Samsung smartphones as U.S. patent battles rumble on

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Earlier this month Apple and Samsung announced they’d agreed to drop all non-US patent-related lawsuits against one another, suggesting the two tech giants had finally come around to the idea that pursuing the costly and time-consuming cases was no longer worth the hassle.

As for the remaining US cases, a ruling in a California court Wednesday suggests even those are beginning to lose steam, as Judge Lucy Koh – who’s presided over many of the courtroom battles between the two companies – rejected Apple’s latest bid to secure a sales ban of a number of Samsung handsets that were recently judged to have infringed patents belonging to the Cupertino company.

In her ruling, Koh said Apple had failed to satisfy “its burden of demonstrating irreparable harm and linking that harm to Samsung’s exploitation of any of Apple’s three infringed patents.”

There’s speculation that this latest ruling could lead Apple and Samsung to bring the curtain down on its US-based legal battles too, thereby ending all patent lawsuits between the two companies, the first of which was filed back in 2011.

Related: A timeline of the biggest fight in tech

In the past, sales bans on mobile products have been secured by both companies, though these were usually overturned on appeal. Occasionally, such bans proved farcical, with one, in Germany in 2011, resulting in iPhones and iPads being taken off shelves for just a few hours before the ruling was overturned.


In the first US-based trial, which took place in 2012, the jury ruled that Samsung had infringed on a number of Apple patents connected with the iPhone and iPad, awarding Apple a colossal $1 billion in damages.

In another trial, in May of this year, Apple was awarded $119 million connected to infringements on other mobile-related patents. It was a sign that such battles were losing momentum, as Apple had been hoping to score damages of $2.2 billion. Samsung, which in the same trial had accused Apple of patent violation, was awarded just $158,000.

One winner?

Prior to May’s court battle, it was estimated that Apple had paid legal fees to the tune of $60 million for its US patent cases, indicating that in this ongoing fight between the iPhone maker and Samsung, there was only one real winner.

With Apple and Samsung earlier this month ending many of its patent disputes around the world, it’s possible the same move will soon be announced for cases in the US, too.

Apple has already reached an agreement with Google to drop all patent lawsuits relating to smartphone technology. The two companies even made a deal to work together in the area of patent reform.

[Source: Bloomberg, WSJ]

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