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United States District Court Halts Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus

The United States District Court in the Northern District of California has issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Apple, Inc. that prevents Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd. from manufacturing or distributing its Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the United States.

A preliminary injunction is a court order that temporarily prevents or requires a certain action until the court has time to reach a judgment in the case. Under the Patent Act, courts “may grant injunctions” in order to maintain equity between parties and protect the rights secured by a patent. Courts may grant a preliminary injunction where the requesting party shows that it is likely to succeed in the case, the party is likely to suffer “immediate and irreparable harm” without a preliminary injunction, a balance of equities weighs in favor of the requesting party, and a preliminary injunction is in the public’s interest.

Apple filed a lawsuit against Samsung for approximately $2.5 billion, alleging that Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone violates four Apple, Inc. patents, causing injury to iPhone sales. This is one of the largest patent suits of this kind.

First, Apple argues that the Galaxy Nexus includes a Google Quick Search Box, like “Siri” on the recently released iPhone 4S. This feature allows users to search across multiple sources at once, such as the Internet and the address book. Apple maintains that the addition of Siri to the iPhone 4s has caused an increase in sales. Next, the Galaxy Nexus includes a feature that detects certain structures, such as telephone numbers and addresses, and allows users to perform actions on those structures, such as dial telephone numbers and obtain directions to addresses. Apple explains that this feature is exclusive to its own iPhone and it has revolutionized user-interaction. Apple also alleges that the Galaxy Nexus contains a “slide-to-unlock feature” which is “iconic” to the iPhone. Finally, Apple explains that the Galaxy Nexus violates a fourth patent because it includes a word recommendation or auto correct feature, which allows users to type quickly on the touchscreen as the device completes words and corrects misspellings.

Apple maintains that these “core functionalities” of the Galaxy Nexus threaten to shift consumer sales away from the iPhone. The patents that are the underlying issue in this lawsuit define the “‘smart’ behavior” that has propelled sales of Apple products. Apple must now go on to prove that Samsung has in fact violated the patents and Apple has suffered injuries as a result of these violations. Apple is likely to face difficulties in demonstrating that the infringements have resulted in injuries to Apple by driving consumer demand away from Apple and towards Samsung.

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