Appeals Court Sides with Apple in Samsung Patent Dispute

In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. today ruled that Apple has the right to seek an injunction to prevent Samsung from using several smartphone features found to have infringed on Apple patents. In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court asserted that U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh erred in an earlier ruling against Apple's request for an injunction against Samsung.

Part of today's ruling is based on case law established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. In that case, involving a patent infringement challenge against eBay by a company called MercExchange, the court agreed unanimously that a party seeking a permanent injunction needed to meet several conditions, including that the public interest would not be disserved.

"Indeed, the public interest strongly favors an injunction," Judge Kimberly Moore said in her opinion.

However, Judge Sharon Prost cast a dissenting vote. "I agree with the majority that the public's interest in competition, without more, does not necessarily decide this factor against granting an injunction," noted Prost. "But it does not follow that the public interest 'nearly always' favors granting an injunction as the majority states."

In the Apple v. Samsung case, today's appeals court decision found that the district court erred when it found that "two eBay factors weighed against an injunction." The decision sends the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for reconsideration.

One Issue: 'Slide to Unlock'

The battle between Apple and Samsung began in 2011, four years after Apple released its first iPhone. Apple obtained numerous patents prior to the iPhone's release to protect multiple new technologies it had developed for the device, including a "slide-to-unlock" feature.

After Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement, alleging that the South Korea-based company had copied a...

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