A US judge on Tuesday backed Apple Inc’s request to stop Samsung Electronics selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the US, giving the iPhone maker a significant win in the global smartphone and tablet patent wars.
Samsung’s Galaxy touchscreen tablets, powered by Google’s Android operating system, are considered by many industry experts to be the main rival to the iPad, though they are currently a distant second to Apple’s device. Microsoft and Google are also preparing tablet offerings.
US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, had previously denied Apple’s bid for an injunction on the tablet and multiple Galaxy smartphones. However, a federal appeals court instructed Koh to reconsider Apple’s request on the tablet.
“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, adding the order should become effective once Apple posts a US$2.6 million bond to protect against damages suffered by Samsung if the injunction is later found to have been wrong.
The injunction against Samsung comes less than a week after Apple suffered a serious setback when a US federal judge in Chicago dismissed its patent claims against Google’s Motorola Mobility unit. Judge Richard Posner ruled that an injunction barring the sale of Motorola smartphones would harm consumers.
Samsung will likely seek to appeal Koh’s ruling to a federal appeals court in Washington, which has exclusive jurisdiction over intellectual property disputes.
“Apple sought a preliminary injunction of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, based on a single design patent that addressed just one aspect of the product’s overall design,” Samsung said in a statement. “Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted.”
The South Korean firm said it would take necessary legal steps and did not expect the ruling to have a significant impact on its business, as it has a broad range of products. It brought out three tablet models last year alone.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet reiterated a prior statement from the company, saying Samsung’s “blatant copying” is wrong.
Apple sold 13.6 million iPads from January to March to control 63 percent of the global tablet market, according to research firm DisplaySearch. Samsung sold 1.6 million tablets, giving it 7.5 percent of the market. The global tablet market is set to nearly double this year to 123.5 million units this year, according to IHS iSuppli.
Microsoft last week introduced its own line of tablet computers, making a major strategic shift for the software giant as it struggles to compete with Apple and reinvent its aging Windows franchise, and Google plans to unveil a US$199 tablet co-branded with Taiwan’s Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) at its developer conference this week, according to a media report.