Samsung has experienced something of a setback in its high-profile legal battle with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), after U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied the manufacturer’s request for an advance look at the next iPad and iPhone.
“Common sense suggests that allegations of copying are necessarily directed at Apple’s existing products,” she wrote, according to a June 22 Reuters report, “and not at Apple’s unreleased, inaccessible, next-generation products.”
The case, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is Apple Inc. vs. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. et al., 11-1846.
Samsung’s getting a look at Apple’s next-generation products was always a long shot, according to one pundit.
“It was all too obvious that Samsung was comparing apples to bananas,” Florian Mueller, a self-described intellectual-property activist, wrote in a June 22 posting on his FOSS Patents blog. “The judge made a lot of effort in her 11-page order to explain that Samsung is entitled to -parity’ but its motion was overreaching in its case.”
However, the case’s most recent twist also holds what Mueller described as “potentially bad news” for Apple. “The court order contains a passage hinting that Apple may not get a preliminary injunction against the sales of certain Samsung products in the United States at this stage.”
That motion for an injunction may end up evaluated “against the background of the iPhone 5 (as far as any Samsung phones are concerned) and the iPad 3 (as far as any Samsung tablet computers are concerned), whenever Apple is in a position to present those products.”
Meanwhile, Apple expanded the scope of its original lawsuit against Samsung, targeting the latter’s newer products such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy S II. In an expanded complaint, Apple’s legal counsel added three new utility patents, two hardware patents, five design patents and four trade dress applications to the list of allegedly violated intellectual property.
Apple’s complaint accuses Samsung of copying its designs and emulating Apple’s products. “Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smartphone products and consumer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,” Apple wrote in its original 38-page suit.
Complicating the legal action is Apple’s reliance on Samsung for components. “I expect the relationship to continue,” Apple COO Tim Cook said during the company’s April 20 earnings call, soon after the initial news of the suit hit the Web. “We felt the mobile division of Samsung had crossed the line … after trying for some time to work the issue, we decided to rely on the courts.”
Apple also has patent infringement lawsuits lodged against HTC and Motorola, and recently settled a high-profile dispute against Nokia. Under the terms of that agreement, Apple will pay Nokia a one-time fee in addition to royalties; neither company has disclosed the amounts of money at issue.