Apple may have won a nearly $1 billion jury verdict in its first patent case against archrival Samsung but has again lost its bid for a court-ordered ban on the sale of nearly two dozen older Samsung smartphones and tablets on the U.S. market.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Thursday denied Apple's request for a permanent injunction against the Samsung products found in an August 2012 trial to have violated Apple's patent and trademark rights. Two juries awarded more than $970 million in damages to Apple as a result of those violations.
Relying on several appeals court decisions that have unfolded in the legal battle, Koh concluded that Apple is not entitled to keep Samsung from selling the older lines of smartphones and tablets. The ruling is largely symbolic, as few of the Samsung devices at issue in the first trial remain on U.S. retail shelves, but it could shape the ongoing legal feud between the world's largest smartphone and tablet makers.
The judge found that Apple failed to prove that the patent rights at stake in the case contribute significantly to consumer decisions to buy iPhones and iPads. A jury found Samsung violated three key patents in iPhones and iPads, such as Apple's pinch-to-zoom feature.
"The totality of the evidence fails to show that the patented inventions drive consumer demand," Koh wrote.
The judge's decision finalizes the first patent case at the trial level, teeing it up for Samsung to appeal the jury verdict to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, Apple and Samsung are preparing for a second patent trial involving newer lines of their signature smartphones and tablets, such as Apple's iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, which Apple claims Samsung copied in its Galaxy SIII and Galaxy Tab 2.
Settlement talks between the two companies appear to have broken down, and lawyers for Apple and Samsung told Koh during a hearing Wednesday that there is no progress. As a result, the court is preparing for jury selection in what has been dubbed "Apple II" on March 31, with the trial expected to extend into early May.
Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz.