Earlier this Summer, Apple was granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s flagship Android device – the Galaxy Nexus. That turned out to be a short-lived victory for Apple as the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit soon thereafter granted Samsung’s request for a stay.
You might remember that the root of Apple’s initial success in attaining an injunction against the Galaxy Nexus was the device’s use of “universal search.” As a quick reminder, universal search enabled users who typed a query into the Android search bar to scour not only results from Google but data from the device itself. For example, a query for “Taylor Swift” would return search results from a device’s music library, email program, and of course from the web.
In the wake of Apple’s short-lived permanent injunction, Samsung event went so far as to issue an over the air update for its Galaxy S3 users whereby they removed the universal search feature.
Now, a few months later, a Federal Appeals Court reversed the injunction completely, explaining that even if the Galaxy Nexus is found to be infringing, Apple would not suffer irreparable harm in the interim if the device continues to be available in stores.
In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was considering an injunction ordered before the trial began but which was quickly stayed. The appeals court reversed the injunction entirely on Thursday, saying that the “district court abused its discretion.”
Apple failed to prove, the court said, that consumers purchased the Samsung product because of the infringing technology. The court considered a single patent – one which allows the smartphone to search multiple data storage locations at once. For example, the smartphone could search the device’s memory as well as the Internet with a single query.
What’s more, Samsung went so far as to point out that sales of the Galaxy Nexus weren’t all that impressive. That being the case, the Court also explained that the Nexus would likely sell “almost as well” with or without the universal search feature. Consequently, even if the feature is found to infringe upon Apple’s patents, the “harm that flows from the alleged infringement” is not great enough to warrant the issuance of an injunction.
Nevertheless, the case -which is separate from the case that was decided in Apple’s favor this past Summer – remains on track for trial in 2014.