Judge Scraps Apple's Bid to Block Samsung Sales

Judge Scraps Apple's Bid to Block Samsung Sales Jason Doiy U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, Northern District of California.

SAN FRANCISCO — After an extra round of briefing and hearings, Apple Inc.’s second bid for a permanent injunction against Samsung Electronics Co. ended just like the first—rejection from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.

The San Jose federal judge reconsidered Apple’s motion to block its rival’s sales after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that she had applied its new “causal nexus” standard for granting an injunction too strictly. But in a 42-page order issued Thursday, Koh found that Apple still had not done enough to show that its patented features drove consumer demand for Samsung’s infringing products.

“The court concludes that Apple simply has not met its burden of proof to warrant an injunction,” Koh wrote.

Apple offered up surveys conducted by John Hauser, a marketing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to try to prove that three of its patented touchscreen technology features influence consumers’ decisions about which phone to buy. But Koh found that the study ignored real-world realities, such as the stiff competition in the marketplace for smartphones and tablets and the availability of devices that do not step on Apple’s patents. She added that the study was a poor fit for devices with hundreds of components.

“The various consumer surveys presented to the court … do no more than confound the court’s efforts to determine whether—of the many smartphone and tablet features such as the camera, screen quality, operating system and screen size—the three patented features at issue here drive demand,” Koh wrote.

Apple’s damages experts, she noted, had not testified that the surveys showed how much consumers wanted the patented features.

“Now that the case has reached the injunction stage, the Court declines to use the survey results in a way that even Apple’s damages experts chose to avoid,” she wrote.

At a January hearing on the motion, Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan argued that Apple would use an injunction to cast doubt on Samsung’s products, though none of the devices that a 2012 jury found infringed Apple patents is on the market anymore.

Apple lawyer William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr argued his side had satisfied the Federal Circuit’s requirement to win a permanent injunction by demonstrating “a connection” between consumer demand and patented features. But Koh insisted in her order that the appeals court had not slackened the standard so much.

“In context, it is clear that the Federal Circuit’s use of ‘some connection’ does not suggest that any connection is sufficient,” she wrote.

Koh finalized judgment in the nearly 3-year-old patent case in a separate order Thursday, entering $929,780,039 in damages for Apple. She will preside over the companies’ next patent trial over newer phones and tablets beginning on March 31.

Contact the reporter at jlove@alm.com.

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