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U.S. judge given go-ahead to decide on Samsung tablet ban

The decision to overturn a three-month-old sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet is now in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 in front of Apple's iPad.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 in front of Apple's iPad.
James Martin/CNET

In a new ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit says a lower court judge should make a determination on whether to dissolve a U.S. sales ban affecting Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

Samsung's once-flagship device was given a preliminary sales ban in June, with stipulation that it could be reversed if Samsung was cleared of infringing Apple's D'889 tablet design patent. That's just what happened in the jury verdict that was delivered last month, leading Samsung to appeal the decision.

"When the jury found that the Galaxy Tab didn't infringe, it was clear that the injunction would be lifted," said Brian Love, a law professor at Santa Clara University.

The only snag in that taking effect was that Judge Lucy Koh, who was presiding over the case, said she didn't have the jurisdiction to make that decision, something that's just been passed down from the higher court.

"Expect her to lift the injunction," Love predicted.

Both companies are expected back in court on December 6 to discuss a wide range of post-trial issues, including a U.S. sales ban of eight Samsung devices that were found to infringe on Apple's patents.

Update at 1:44 p.m. PT: Well, that was fast. Samsung has filed a request with the court to have the tablet ban dissolved, based on the order from the higher court. From the filing:

Samsung's motion to dissolve is fully briefed, and the Court stated last week that, since "the sole basis for the June 26 Preliminary Injunction no longer exists," it would have "dissolve[d] the June 26 Preliminary Injunction if the Court had jurisdiction." The Court now has jurisdiction, and there has been no change in the circumstances since last week that would support any other result. Samsung therefore respectfully requests, pursuant to Rule 62.1(c) and for the reasons set forth in Samsung's prior papers, that the Court dissolve the preliminary injunction forthwith.

Update, 5:22 p.m. PT: No surprise here, Apple has filed an opposition to Samsung's above request, asking the court to "either deny Samsung's motion to dissolve the Tab 10.1 preliminary injunction," or defer a ruling on it until the company files its arguments for permanent injunctions on this device and others:

Given that [judgment as a matter of law] (JMOL) and permanent injunction motions have already been filed and that oppositions are due in just three weeks, Apple believes that the more logical course is for the Court to decide all issues of injunctive relief (including Samsung's motion to dissolve and Apple's motion for a permanent injunction) at the same time that it decides the related JMOL motions. Samsung cannot show any urgent need to decide its motion first, given that Samsung has admitted that the injunction will not cause significant harm because Samsung is already selling a successor product and the Tab 10.1 is nearing the end of its product life.

Apple adds that if the court decides to dissolve the tablet ban, Apple should be given the chance, at a hearing, to address "the important issues raised by this motion."

CNET's Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.