In a December 17th ruling that could possibly be the end of an entertaining and lengthy trial between Apple and Samsung, the judge threw out Apple’s request for an injunction, or in plain language, a ban of 26 Samsung devices. The Apple vs. Samsung case officially started on April 15 and went to jury on June 22. Some of the most quotable moments covered by the media: a frustrated Judge Lucy Koh repeatedly called for peacemaking and negotiation between the parties. Judge Koh called Apple “on crack” after Apple presented 22 absent witnesses before the court on August 16. On July 31 Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven opened the floor with a claim that Apple did not invent the rectangle.
Apple was granted over $1 billion in damages from Samsung on August 23. The ruling proved controversial, as many believed it was too favorable towards Apple.
The favor given to Samsung yesterday, including the annoyed tone with which Judge Koh’s delivered it, is most interesting about the latest ruling. Koh almost agreed with Samsung in rejecting Apple’s claim on design ownership: “…Apple’s evidence does not establish that any of Apple’s three design patents covers a particular feature that actually drives consumer demand…First, through more specific than the general more specific than the general “design” allegations, they are still not specific enough to clearly identify actual patented designs. Instead, they refer to such isolated characteristics as glossiness, reinforced glass, black color, metal edges, and reflective screen…Apple does not have a patent on, for example, glossiness, or on black color.”
She also redeemed Samsung: “… only limited features of the phones have been found to infringe any of Apple’s intellectual property. Though the phones do contain infringing features, they contain a far greater number of non-infringing features to which consumers would no longer have access if this Court were to issue an injunction The public interest does not support removing phones from the market when the infringing components constitute such limited parts of complex, multi-featured products.”
She also called on Apple’s habit of going out of its way to prove its product superior. Judge Kohn said Apple does not grant injunctions purely for punishment purposes. Above all, Apple failed to show that Samsung’s products made a material dent in its market share.
The latest ruling made the trial fairer in the eyes of Samsung supporters, and the judges reasoning (public interest, discouraging the use of public courts for vendettas, and lack of ownership on colors) were on point. In that case, the question remains about why she granted such high damages to Apple in the first place.