Thursday, July 19, 2012

Appeals court once again denies stay of preliminary injunction against Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today denied two Samsung motions relating to the preliminary injunction Apple won against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 four weeks ago:

  1. The Federal Circuit denied Samsung's motion to stay the preliminary injunction for the duration of the appellate proceedings.

    The appeals court had previously denied to stay the injunction for its decision on Samsung's motion for a stay pending appeal.

    The opinion published today does not provide much detail. It does, however, recall that "[t]o prevail [on a motion to stay], a movant must establish a strong likelihood of success on the merits or, failing that, must demonstrate that it has a substantial case on the merits and that the harm factors militate in its favor". Samsung's motion, which even contradicted Samsung's own public statements that it wasn't really harmed by the injunction, failed to meet those requirements.

  2. The appeals court furthermore denied a Samsung motion to expedite the appeal.

    All that the court says Samsung can do to accelerate the process is to file its own opening brief as early as possible. The order also indicates that Apple will probably not get any extensions for its response.

In practical terms, this decision means that the next procedural opportunity for Samsung to regain its right to sell the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S. will be the trial that is scheduled to start on July 30. But since the Federal Circuit would have stayed the injunction if it believed in Samsung's chances of prevailing at trial, it's clear that Samsung faces an uphill battle. The Federal Circuit decision is, for the time being, an endorsement of Judge Koh's entry of a preliminary injunction.

Fortunately for Samsung, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 case is indeed not a major threat to its success. And if it absolutely wants to sell 10.1-inch tablets in the U.S., it's free to do so as long as it designs around Apple's asserted design patent.

The more important case is the one relating to the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Samsung's related appeal has gone well so far. The Federal Circuit stayed the injunction pending its decision on a stay for the entire duration of the appeal and granted Samsung's motion to expedite the process. While the Federal Circuit may very well affirm the preliminary injunction in the end, it's clear that Samsung has better prospects in this case than in the Galaxy Tab 10.1 case, at least with respect to the hardship that results from the injunction and possibly (though not necessarily) also on the merits.

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