U.S. judge says Samsung infringes Apple iPad patents

Apple is seeking an injunction against sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab while its patent suit is being decided

A U.S. federal judge said today that Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet infringes of Apple's iPad design patents, according to Reuters, though she suggested that Apple might not be able to prove the patents were valid, which would be necessary for her to enjoin Samsung from selling its tablets in the U.S. Courts in Europe and Australia have found in Apple's favor in similar suits and blocked Galaxy Tab sales.

Apple asked Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in San Jose, to issue a preliminary injunction that would keep Samsung from selling the tablets while the case is being heard. She did not issue a final ruling on that request, and suggested that at least one of Apple's three infringement claims did not merit an injunction. She did not suggest her thinking on the other two claims' suitability for an injunction, leaving her final ruling for later. Samsung spokesman Kim Titus said, "Samsung still believes that the motions against us are groundless, and we will continue to provide products ... to the American consumers."

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Koh frequently remarked on the similarity between each company's tablets during the court proceedings, Reuters reported. At one point, she held one tablet in each hand above her head, and asked a Samsung attorney if she could identify which company produced which. "Not at this distance your honor," said the lawyer, who stood about ten feet away. Another lawyer supplied the right answer upon further questioning.

Apple sued Samsung in April, citing a long list of instances in which the company allegedly copied Apple's hardware design, user interface and even packaging for its Google Android-based tablets. Among the tools Apple is seeking to use against Samsung are bans on importation of the devices.

Apple won an injunction in Australia on Thursday that blocked the sale of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 while the company's suit against Samsung proceeds. It has also won a Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban in Germany, and in August a court in the Netherlands forced Samsung to prepare a software update to stop infringement of one patent. Samsung has retaliated with several suits against Apple in Europe.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for the IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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