Apple VICTORY: Old Samsung phones not sold any more can't be sold any more

End of case scheduled shortly after heat death of universe

A US appeals court has said that various ancient Samsung phones which aren't being sold any more can't be sold any more, because they infringe an Apple patent.

The handsets affected are the Galaxy S3 and some older models dating from 2012 and before. Samsung is now on to the S6, so these aren't exactly piled high in the shops any more.

Back in August 2014, after two years of courtroom wrangling, Apple tried and failed to get a banning order in California against Samsung. A jury earlier found that some of the South Korean giant's Android smartphones had ripped off iOS's patented slide-to-unlock feature, algorithm to turn telephone numbers and URLs in text into links, and its autocorrect mechanism.

Although Apple bagged $120m from Sammy for the infringement, the iGiant took the case further to a US Court of Appeals in Washington DC that deals with patents, which ruled 2-1 this week [PDF] that the lower court was wrong on forbidding the injunction.

"Apple does not seek to enjoin the sale of lifesaving drugs, but to prevent Samsung from profiting from the unauthorized use of infringing features in its cellphones and tablets," the appeals court noted on Thursday.

The decision this week, in effect, tosses a box of ammo to Apple to use against Samsung in the pair's ongoing war over smartphone patent – a conflict that's been raging for at least four years in other courts.

The case is now back with a San Jose district court to reconsider the injunction, which if granted would force Samsung to either not sell any device that infringes on the aforementioned patents, or modify the gear to put them in the clear.

Apple argues that it's not just older Galaxy kit that infringes its iOS patents, and that newer gadgets also fall foul of the law – but Samsung claims it has since reengineered the software on its smartphones, or abandoned the features, so as not to infringe Apple's patents.

"Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products," Apple said in a statement today.

Samsung fired back with its own spin: "We want to reassure our millions of loyal customers that all of our flagship smartphones ... will remain for sale and available for customer service support in the US."

"This ruling reinvigorates patent holders in keeping companies off the market," Rutgers University law prof Michael Carrier told The Wall Street Journal. "Apple now has a weapon it can use in two ways: in future litigation with Samsung and others, and in settlement negotiations."

Samsung said it will ask all federal circuit judges to review Thursday's ruling in a bid to overturn it. So it could be a complete waste of time, rather than a near total waste of time – well, except for the lawyers. ®

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