Apple Proposes Samsung Injunction Before U.S. Phone Sales

Apple and Samsung Fight Three-Front Patent War
Apple’s patent-infringement claim against Samsung, accuses its Suwon, South Korea-based rival of copying inventions related to touch-screen devices, headset detection and the look and shape of the iPhone. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. may get a faster schedule for evidence sharing in its bid for a court order to block sales of Samsung Electronics Co.’s latest Galaxy smartphone in the U.S., a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California, yesterday said she wants the companies by today to tell her how the Galaxy S III is “colorably different” from Samsung’s Nexus smartphone, the device initially targeted with infringement claims by Apple in a complaint filed in February.

Koh said she wants to know if the Galaxy S III contains a “different combination of features” from the Nexus and said she will allow some “expedited” exchange of information between the companies.

Apple’s June 5 request for an injunction reflects the failure of court-ordered talks between Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and his Samsung counterpart Choi Gee Sung last month. The world’s two biggest makers of high-end phones have accused each other of copying designs and technology for mobile devices and are fighting patent battles in four continents to retain their dominance in the $219 billion global smartphone market.

Josh Krevitt, a lawyer for Cupertino, California-based Apple, told Koh he was considering filing a request for a temporary restraining order in the interest of blocking sales of the Galaxy S III before its scheduled release in the U.S. this month.

Trial Date

Koh said that if Apple chooses to pursue the restraining order, that “will likely bump” Apple’s July 30 trial date in an earlier, related infringement case targeting Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung’s tablet computer, among other devices.

“I just don’t have the human bandwidth” to handle the strain of the companies’ multiplying demands in the cases, Koh said. “I wanted to give some notice that I cannot be an Apple v. Samsung judge.”

Krevitt said the choice was unfair, and forced by Samsung’s tactic of releasing new generations of products before courts around the world are able to issue infringement rulings on the original devices at issue.

Krevitt said a court order temporarily barring Galaxy S III sales in the U.S. will create “a mechanism to allow the court to decide this issue before the launch.”

Samsung’s newest smartphone is the “most widely pre-ordered gadget in history” and its release will cause Apple “substantial, immediate and irreparable harm,” he said.

No ‘Emergency’

Bill Price, a lawyer for Samsung, objected to Apple’s request, telling the judge there’s no “established emergency.” Apple’s urgency stems from its inability to “compete against the new features” of the Galaxy S III, and the company is trying to “prevent a phone from getting to the public that is better than Apple’s in many, many respects,” Price said.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 12-cv-00630, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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