A U.S. district court on Thursday (local time) dismissed Apple Inc.'s request to ban sales of rival Samsung Electronics Co.'s smart devices, a ruling viewed as more symbolic for the heated patent battle than business loss.
Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for Northern California rejected an attempt by Apple to prohibit sales of 23 smartphones and tablet PCs, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, officials here and local reports said Friday.
The decision came nearly three years after Apple filed for the injunction in 2011, accusing Samsung of infringing three patents on touchscreen features.
"The court concludes that damages for the irreparable harm Apple alleges are difficult to quantify," Koh said in the ruling, adding that the U.S. tech giant failed to prove the three features drove consumer demand for Samsung products.
Koh added that numerous other features of smart devices, such as battery life, MP3 player functionality, operating system, text messaging options, GPS and processor speed, were also "highly important" to consumers.
The ruling's business impact on Samsung is negligible since the 23 devices named in the lawsuit are no longer being sold in the U.S. Industry officials say the ruling carries more weight as part of a bigger patent war underway among leading tech players trying to survive market saturation and competition from fast-rising rivals in China and elsewhere. The latest ruling would also serve as a precedent for similar lawsuits in the future, they say.
Samsung welcomed the court's decision, while Apple gave no official comment.
Also ruling on a separate ongoing lawsuit, Koh affirmed the US$929 million compensation Samsung was ordered to pay to Apple. This lawsuit is expected to drag out for some time, as any side that loses is certain to appeal.
The two parties are set to commence a second round of patent battle in the U.S., in which Apple claimed Samsung has infringed its patent with the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Tab 2.
Samsung is expected to remain the only significant threat to Apple as it launches renewed models of its Galaxy brand. Data by Strategy Analytics showed Samsung on a higher footing for the first quarter of 2014, estimating its global market share at 36.2 percent compared with 17 percent for Apple.