Samsung Says Apple’s Real Sales Ban Target Is New Phones

Samsung Electronics Co. urged a judge not to bar U.S. sales of some phones found to infringe Apple Inc. patents, saying the iPhone maker will try to “end run” any order to get the Galaxy maker’s newer products banned.

Kathleen Sullivan, a lawyer for Samsung, told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, yesterday that Apple’s real intention in seeking the sales ban, which addresses only products that are no longer on the market, is to push for another order targeting Samsung products that haven’t been proven to infringe its patents.

Apple’s renewed request to ban sales of more than 20 Samsung smartphones and tablets at issue in the companies’ first U.S. patent trial in 2012 comes amid their continuing battle to dominate the worldwide smartphone market. Koh’s ruling on whether to grant the injunction may affect court-ordered settlement negotiations that both companies agreed to this month as they prepare for another trial in March covering newer products.

Samsung and Apple have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees on claims of copying each other’s features since Apple initiated the fight in 2011. Samsung accounted for 28.8 percent of global smartphone shipments in the three months ended Dec. 31, down from 29.1 percent a year earlier, Framingham, Massachusetts-based market researcher IDC said in a Jan. 27 statement. Apple’s share fell to 17.9 percent from 20.9 percent.

Jury Verdict

While Koh rejected Apple’s bid for a sales ban on the infringing Samsung devices after the 2012 jury verdict, a federal appeals court in November cleared the way for the iPhone maker to pursue an injunction targeting some of its rival’s products.

“Samsung’s claim that it has discontinued selling the particular models found to infringe or design around Apple’s patents in no way diminishes Apple’s need for injunctive relief,” Apple argued in a court filing. “Because Samsung frequently brings new products to market, an injunction is important to providing Apple the relief it needs to combat any future infringement by Samsung through products not more than colorably different from those already found to infringe.”

Sullivan argued yesterday that any injunction will create “fear and uncertainty” for carriers and retailers about what Samsung products they can legally offer.

An order blocking sales of even obsolete products will “cause them to wonder what other products they might not be able to sell that aren’t colorably different” from the banned products, she said.

Apple lawyer Bill Lee told Koh that when a jury finds infringement, the companies fighting each other are competitors and the sales of products at issue have resulted in lost sales, the “natural, inexorable result” is a sales injunction.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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