Samsung Galaxy Infringes Apple’s Patents, But Apple Must Prove Validity

By Joseph Mandour on October 19, 2011

Patent Infringement Claims Orange County – In one of the many cases pending worldwide involving the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy tablet, a US District Court Judge commented that the Samsung Galaxy tablet did indeed infringe upon the design patents for the Apple iPad. However, Judge Lucy Koh noted that Apple must demonstrate the validity of its design patents in order to receive an injunction barring sales of the Samsung Galaxy. Judge Koh refused to grant the injunction for Apple’s utility patent.

Apple originally filed the U.S. action in April claiming that the Samsung Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets infringed upon patents owned by Apple for the iPhone and iPad. In July, Apple asked for an injunction barring the U.S. sale of the infringing Galaxy products. Both Verizon and T-Mobile have opposed Apple’s action for an injunction. The cell carriers argue that such an injunction would dramatically reduce holiday sales of smartphone and tablets and cut into their profits as carriers.

Apple is now faced with the task of proving the validity of its design patents. Unlike a utility patent, which protects some functional aspect of the patented article, a design patent does not pertain to functional elements. Instead, a design patent protects the design or appearance of an article. The primary purpose of the elements of a design patent must not serve a function other than creating a certain appearance of the article.

In this case, plaintiff Apple now has the burden of establishing the validity of its design patents. As the defendant, Samsung must only raise legitimate cause to doubt the validity of the Apple patents. Despite Samsung’s assurance that it has raised sufficient questions as to patent validty, when the Samsung attorneys were asked by Judge Koh to distinguish the Samsung Galaxy tablet from the Apple iPad when held side by side, Samsung attorneys replied that they were unable to tell the difference at that distance.

A similar action between the two parties in Australia recently resulted in a temporary ban of the Samsung Galaxy tablet in that country.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement