Apple seeks US sales ban on nine old Samsung smartphones

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Joel Rosenblatt San Francisco

Apple, following a jury verdict that Samsung Electronics infringed three of its patents, is seeking a US sales ban on some older models of the South Korean company’s smartphones.

Apple, which on May 2 won $120 million (R1.2 billion) of the $2.2bn it sought, identified nine devices it wants barred in a filing on Friday with District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.

Winning a ban may prove difficult for Apple because Koh, who also presided over the companies’ first US trial in 2012, twice rejected the iPhone-maker’s request in that case, legal experts said. This time around the jury also concluded that Apple infringed one of Samsung’s patents, though the Galaxy maker has not yet requested a ban of Apple products.

Apple’s bid “seems like a hard sell, given that it failed to achieve an injunction in the last trial with significant design patent infringement and similar feature patent infringement”, Michael Risch, a law professor at Villanova University, said.

Apple, which has said that a sales ban was more important than monetary damages, has been waging legal battles with Samsung since 2011 across four continents. The top two smartphone makers each seek to dominate a market that was valued at $338.2bn last year, Bloomberg data showed.

“After the jury rejected Apple’s grossly exaggerated damages claim, Apple is again leaning on the court to push other smartphones out of the market,” Samsung spokesman Adam Yates said in an e-mailed statement. “If granted, this would stifle fair competition and limit choice for American consumers.”

Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Both companies also filed requests to alter the judgments against them in their favour. Apple requested a new trial. Such requests were difficult to win, Risch said, because judges were reluctant to undo or alter jury decisions.

Samsung’s share of global smartphone shipments fell to about 31 percent in the first quarter from 32 percent a year earlier, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple’s share fell to about 15 percent from almost 18 percent in the same period, while Chinese producers such as Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi gained ground in emerging markets with cheaper, feature- packed devices.

Apple announced on May 17 that it was settling litigation involving Google’s Motorola Mobility handset unit. That agreement, patent experts said, might only intensify its feud with Samsung, which uses Google’s Android operating system to power its phones.

Three days after that settlement announcement, Apple and Samsung blamed each other in a report to Koh for blocking progress on resolving their patent disputes. While both companies vowed to continue pursuing an accord to end their three-year legal fight, each said in a court filing that its adversary had taken positions that made out-of-court resolution more difficult.

The nine devices targeted by Apple for a US sales ban include the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, and Stratosphere. – Bloomberg


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