Court bans Samsung from selling older smartphones you can't get anymore

Judge issues permanent injunction against handful of devices found to infringe on a trio of Apple patents.

Court ruling means Samsung can't sell you a Galaxy S3, a phone that has been replaced by a succession of Galaxy flagship smartphones.

CNET

Samsung has been ordered to stop selling a handful of older smartphones in the US that have already largely vanished from the market.

In the latest round of the Apple v. Samsung patent war, US District Judge Lucy Koh on Monday granted an Apple motion for permanent injunction against devices that use technology covered by patents Samsung was found to be infringing on. Those devices now banned from sale in the US include the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3, and Stratosphere.

The most recent device on the list, the Galaxy S3, which propelled Samsung to the top of the smartphone market, was introduced in 2012 but has since been replaced by a slew of newer Samsung flagship smartphones. Most of the devices on the court's list are no longer offered for sale in the US by Samsung.

Apple's injunction request stems back to its winning a $119.6 million jury verdict against Samsung in May 2014. The jury found Samsung infringed on several Apple patents -- one for quick links, one for slide-to-unlock and another for automatic word correction -- and it was these infringed-upon patents that Apple wanted included in its injunction request.

Apple had initially asked the court to ban Samsung's products that used those patents, but Koh ruled in August 2014 that monetary damages were sufficient in resolving the harm done to Apple. Last September, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed, finding that Samsung should have been banned from using certain patented Apple features in its device.

"The court finds that Apple will suffer irreparable harm if Samsung continues to use its use of the infringing features, that monetary damages cannot adequately compensate Apple for this resulting irreparable harm, and that the balance of equities and public interest favor entry of a permanent injunction," Koh wrote in her filing.

Samsung said it was disappointed in the ruling but said it would not impact consumers.

"While this will not impact American consumers, it is another example of Apple abusing the judicial system to create bad legal precedent which can harm consumer choice for generations to come," a Samsung spokesman said in a statement.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ruling could have wide-ranging effects on the patent landscape, particularly when it comes to devices like smartphones that have a complex variety of patents and features. It could make it easier for patent holders to receive sales bans on competitors' products, something that gives them more power when it comes to the negotiating table.

Other major technology companies -- including eBay, Facebook, Google and Hewlett-Packard -- have supported Samsung in its battle against Apple. Earlier Monday, a handful of legal experts, nonprofit organizations and technology companies filed amicus or "friend of the court" briefs in support of Samsung, urging the US Supreme Court to consider the patent-infringement case.

They want the nation's highest court to better define design patents and limit the damages that can be awarded. And they're using Apple v. Samsung as the case that hopefully gets the federal government to enact patent reforms, preventing so-called patent trolls from cashing in on intellectual property.

The whole spat started when Apple filed suit against Samsung in April 2011, accusing its rival of copying the look and feel of its iPhones and iPads. Samsung countersued, and the case went to trial in August 2012. A nine-person jury sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung. It awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages, much less than the $2.75 billion sought by the Cupertino, Calif., company. Samsung, which asked for $421 million in its countersuit, didn't get anything.

However, Judge Koh in March 2013 ordered a new trial to recalculate some of the damages in the case.

Updated 1/19 at 8:30 a.m. PTwith Samsung statement.

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