Apple Inc has won a landmark patent battle against its main rival Samsung Electronics Company in a Californian court. The South Korean company was ordered to halt deployment of software in mobiles in the U.S. that infringed on such patents.
The U.S. District Court in San Jose ordered Samsung to desist from developing, making, designing, using or selling code or software that enables its devices to infringe on three Apple patents. Such patents are related to features in mobile phones such as slide-to-unlock, data detection and autocorrect.
Enforcement of the court injunction will begin after 30 days, rather than immediately as requested by Apple.
The order mirrors a September ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington that barred Samsung from employing Apple’s features such as quicklinks, slide-to-unlock and autocorrect. The appeals court justified its decision on the basis that failure to rule in favor of Apple would erase patent rights bestowed on inventors of some features in multi-component products.
Samsung contested the decision by the appeals court, though it was unsuccessful. It had the support of LG Electronics Inc., HTC Corp., Rackspace Hosting Inc. and Google Inc. The four tech firms argued that ruling if Apple’s favor would motivate patent inventors to unfairly pursue competitive gains using their intellectual property.
The two smartphone makers have battled each other in various jurisdictions across the world since 2011, with each party accusing the other of violating their patents. With nothing productive to show for, the two parties decided to withdraw all suits lodged in various courts save for two that were pending in the California federal court, which resulted in Monday’s order.
The court order affects code or software that was employed in older models of Samsung devices such as Galaxy S II, Note and Galaxy SIII smartphones. However, Apple has the liberty to request the court to bar newer Samsung phones from using the features.
In an email to Bloomberg, Jung Dong Joon, a Seoul-based patent attorney at SU Intellectual Property, stated: “It seems the U.S. court didn’t take anyone’s side and managed to take care of both companies. The latest move will only have a minimal impact on Samsung’s mobile business because most of the models to be banned are too old, while it gave Apple more negotiating power when it comes to patents.”
Nonetheless, Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents opines that the victory is more pyrrhic than it is presumed to be. This is due to the fact that two patents, Apple’s ‘172 “autocorrect” and ‘721 “slide-to-unlock”, may be considered invalid; while the patent Apple ‘647 “data detectors” will expire on Feb.1.
Apple and Samsung, two great rivals but business partners, account for a third of smartphones sold across the world. Apple sources chips and displays manufactured by Samsung for its own devices.
The court order is listed as Apple v. Samsung, 12cv630, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).