Friday, July 1, 2011

Apple files motion for preliminary injunction in the U.S. against four Samsung products: Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, Galaxy Tab 10.1

Right before a long weekend in the U.S. (due to Independence Day on Monday), Apple attempts a hole-in-one in its legal spat with Samsung. Apple has filed (with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California) a motion for a preliminary injunction:

11-07-01 Apple Motion for PI Against Samsung

The motion targets the following four Samsung products: Infuse 4G, Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Apple asserts the following four intellectual property rights -- three design patents and one utility patent:

Those IPRs are a limited subset of all the rights Apple is asserting in this case. For its motion for a preliminary motion, Apple selected the ones it believes can be evaluated by the court particularly quickly.

Shooting for a preliminary injunction is a bold gamble for Apple. If Apple's motion is granted, Samsung will be forced within a matter of a few months -- possibly less than two months -- to take it flagship Android-based products from the U.S. market. Just the possibility of this happening could lead Samsung to settle with Apple early on. But if Samsung doesn't cave and Apple's motion fails, Apple's position will look weak. I explained the implications of that potential outcome in a recent blog post (the link leads directly to that particular section). It's important to consider that a court grants a preliminary injunction only if there's a really strong and convincing case.

This week there has been quite some escalation of this dispute:

  • On Tuesday, Samsung filed an ITC complaint against Apple, which could result in an import ban against the iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines within 16 to 18 months. Samsung also filed a federal lawsuit in Delaware over the same patents.

  • On Wednesday, Samsung filed a lawsuit with the London-based High Court of England and Wales, and the Wall Street Journal reported on a recent lawsuit in Italy. At this point, Samsung is suing Apple in eight courts in six countries on three continents.

  • Yesterday Samsung increased the number of U.S. patents-in-suit by two, now asserting 17 different U.S. patents against Apple. It also filed its defenses against Apple's U.S. lawsuit. That Samsung filing suggested between the lines that Apple brings accusations of copying only because it can't accept competition.

Apple is now trying to deal a potentially decisive blow to Samsung in the U.S. market as early as possible. Samsung will now be able to respond to Apple's opening brief, and then Apple can file another answer. Apparently Apple is shooting for a court hearing on August 5, at which it will formally ask the judge to order the injunction. But today's filing has initiated the process.

In addition, Apple is asking for an expedited trial aiming for a jury trial in February 2012. That motion is meant to accelerate the overall process (not the part concerning the preliminary injunction request, which will have to be decided sooner).

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