Sun, Apr 08, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Apple asks appeals court to halt Samsung gadget sales


A shop attendant poses with replica HTC, Samsung and Apple smartphones at a shop in Taipei on Friday.

Photo: Shengfa Lin, Reuters

Apple Inc, the maker of the iPhone and iPad, asked a US appeals court to block sales of some products made by Samsung Electronics Co that it contends “slavishly copy” the two devices.

“Apple is widely regarded as an innovator of beautiful designs,” Apple lawyer Michael Jacobs of Morrison & Foerster told a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington on Friday. “What we’re asking Samsung to do is stop copying. There are other beautiful designs out there.”

Apple is challenging a trial judge’s December decision allowing some of Samsung’s Galaxy tablets and phones to remain on the market while a patent-infringement case is pending. The Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker contends Samsung has copied the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad to lure away customers. A trial is scheduled to begin on July 30 in San Francisco.

“There is no clear error that would warrant reversing the judge’s decision, especially since we’re on a July trial schedule,” Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel said.

Jacobs said that it would be months before the judge in the case would rule on post-trial motions, so the request to halt sales quickly is still important.

Apple, Sullivan said, was trying to get a monopoly on rectangular tablets with flat screens and rounded corners.

“There was no evidence that consumers were basing their decision to buy a Samsung product or drop an Apple product because of design features,” Sullivan said. “Our phones are very different if you strip out their over-broad claims.”

The Samsung dispute is the biggest front in Apple’s efforts to curtail the 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. It has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC Corp (宏達電) and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

The case argued on Friday 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.

The three judges questioned both sides on the proper standard for patent owners to block products where only one feature is infringing a patent. Circuit Judge Timothy Bryson asked whether Ford Motor Co would be able to halt sales of Chrysler Corp cars that copied a cup-holder design.

“People may have been flocking to Chrysler and leaving Ford because they have neat ads or a great engine,” Bryson said.

Jacobs said consumers buy phones for a number of reasons and there is evidence Samsung changed its designs in reaction to the popularity of the Apple products.

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