Sun, Jul 01, 2012 - Page 13 News List

US court bars Samsung’s Nexus phone

’BIG DEAL’:The latest round in the patent wars went to Apple, after a judge ruled it faced greater harm than Samsung if sales of the Nexus smartphone were not blocked

Bloomberg

Hugo Barra, product management director of Android, holds up a Samsung Galaxy Nexus to give out to attendees of Google’s annual developer conference in San Francisco during the keynote speech on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Photo: AFP

Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, was barred from selling its Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the US by a second court ruling this week in its global patent dispute with Apple Inc.

The ruling by US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, follows her order on Tuesday blocking US sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 computer in the patent and trademark-infringement lawsuit over smartphones and tablets. On June 7, Koh expedited evidence sharing for Apple’s bid to block sales of Samsung’s newest Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy S III.

“Although Samsung will necessarily be harmed by being forced to withdraw its product from the market before the merits can be determined after a full trial, the harm faced by Apple absent an injunction is greater,” Koh said in her ruling on Friday. “Apple’s interest in enforcing its patent rights is particularly strong because it has presented a strong case on the merits.”

The world’s two biggest makers of high-end phones have accused each other of copying designs and technology for mobile devices and are fighting patent battles on four continents to retain their dominance in the US$219 billion global smartphone market.

After rejecting Apple’s repeated requests for injunctions blocking sales of Samsung products, Koh, following an appeals court ruling in Apple’s favor, has granted Apple two important injunctions this week.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carl Howe, an analyst with Yankee Group, a Boston-based technology research firm. “Samsung is perhaps the best and most successful challenge to Apple in the smartphone business, so to win an injunction against your biggest competitor is pretty profound.”

Taken with the earlier ruling on the Galaxy Tab, he said, “It does imply that there will be problems for Samsung.”

Samsung accounts for 29.1 percent of global shipments of smartphones, according to market research firm IDC. California-based Apple is second with 24.2 percent, IDC said.

Apple has sought to bar as many as 25 Samsung smartphones in addition to the Nexus model covered by Friday’s ruling, including the latest, the Galaxy S III. The Nexus phone was the first smartphone to run Google’s Android version 4.0.

“Samsung is disappointed, as the court’s decision will restrict US consumer choice in the smartphone market,” Adam Yates, a Samsung spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will take all available measures, including legal action, to ensure the Galaxy Nexus remains available to consumers.”

The South Korean electronics maker is working closely with Google to resolve the sales ban as the disputed patent involves the US company’s search function, Samsung said in a separate statement yesterday.

Outside courtroom battles, Samsung and Apple also have a close business relationship. Samsung is one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, making parts including semiconductors and screens. About 7.6 percent of Samsung’s revenue comes from Apple, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Earlier in the week, Kim Young Chan, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp, said Samsung’s “fundamentals will stay intact” so long as smartphone sales are not blocked.

Apple is the biggest buyer of Samsung chips and displays.

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