Apple vs Samsung: Sales bans shelved

The threat of either Apple or Samsung products being pulled from the shelves has largely faded away thanks to two key developments in the ongoing legal saga between the two.

The first comes in the most high-profile case, the mutual lawsuits in the US that wound up with Apple getting a $1.05 billion judgment. Judge Lucy Koh has now rejected an Apple request that 26 of the relevant devices be subject to a sales ban.

Samsung had pointed out that 23 of the products are now longer on the market, but Koh said she had to consider them anyway just in case Samsung wanted to start reselling them.

The short version of Koh’s judgment is that the billion dollars is sufficient compensation for any harm Samsung caused by violating patents. The only way she could have permitted a sales ban is if Apple could show Samsung had caused specific harm that couldn’t be made up for with damages.

Apple did try to argue that it had lost customers and market share to Samsung since the violations, but Koh said there wasn’t conclusive evidence that the two were linked. Even if there were, the claim would likely have failed because such damage could be made up for through a financial payment and there’s no suggestion Samsung wouldn’t be able to hand over cash if required.

In other key rulings, Koh threw out a Samsung request for a fresh trial because of claims the jury foreman was biased. She’s still considering a request to cut the billion dollar award in half, though that will only be relevant if Samsung’s appeal against the original verdict fails.

Meanwhile Samsung has withdrawn its own calls for a sales ban in Europe in a case where it says Apple has violated patents. Samsung says “…we strongly believe it is better when companies compete fairly in the marketplace, rather than in court.”

It’s important to note Samsung is not withdrawing the European lawsuits themselves and is still looking for a damages award. One reason it has dropped the injunction request may be that it is considering a more conciliatory approach with Apple and could be open to negotiations rather than risking another all-or-nothing court verdict.

Another is that the patents in the case are considered “standards essential” and courts are beginning to turn against issuing injunctions in such cases: Samsung may be withdrawing now because it knows the request will likely fail anyway.

The Apple-Samsung war still has a long way to go though. The US case only deals with technology up to a certain point. The two sides have a separate case covering more recent tech such as the iPhone 5 set to hit Koh’s courtroom at a later date.

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