Apple gets interlocutory injunction against Samsung

Apple gets over the first hurdle.

Apple v Samsung DownUnder

At (Foss Patents‘) last count, the war between Apple and Samsung now ranges across 4 continents and 11 different courts in 9 countries. (For the start of the war, start here.)

As of yesterday, one of those countries is Australia where, on Apple’s application for an interlocutory injunction, in return for an undertaking as to damages Samsung gave undertakings:

  1. Until the determination of this proceeding or further order of the Court, the respondents and each of them, by themselves, their servants or agents or otherwise, without admission of liability will not without the licence of the first applicant, import, promote, offer to supply, supply, offer for sale or sell in Australia the Galaxy Tab 10.1 device the subject of paragraph 3 of the affidavit of Reginald Leones affirmed 28 July 2011.
  2. Until the determination of this proceeding or further order of the Court, the respondents will on the provision of suitable confidentiality undertakings, provide to the solicitors for the applicants 3 samples of the version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 device intended for launch in Australia at least 7 days prior to the date of intended distribution to sales channels for the purpose of review and analysis.
  3. Until the expiration of the 7 day period referred to in paragraph 2 above, without any admission of liability, the respondents and each of them, by themselves their servants or agents will not:
(a)     advertise;
(b)	seek expressions of interest from consumers in relation to;
(c)	sell;
(d)	authorise or facilitate the advertisement by third parties of; or
(e)	otherwise supply to consumers,
the device referred to in paragraph 2 above.

At least as reported in the media here, Apple’s claim doesn’t appear to be relying on trade dress but, rather, the more concrete rights conferred by patents. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the patents in dispute are:

Standard Patents
- 2008201540: List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display
- 2005246219: Multipoint touchscreen
- 2007283771: Portable electronic device for photo management
- 2009200366: List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display
- 2007286532: Touch screen device, method and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics
Innovation Patents
- 2008100283: List scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display
- 2008100372: Electronic device for photo management
- 2009100820: Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image
- 2008100419: Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image
- 2008101171: Portable electronic device for imaged-based browsing of contacts

The Court would have required an undertaking as to damages as part of the price for awarding an interlocutory injunction pending trial if it had been pressed to decide the application.

Samsung subsequently issued a press release claiming in effect that it’s all a misunderstanding and it was never going to release the US version of its Galaxy Tab 10.1.

From the perspective of a US patent lawyer, Samsung’s position looks pretty weak. On the other hand, Patentology thinks Samsung hasn’t conceded much and has the upper hand.

Samsung is making a special version of the Galaxy Tab for Australia?

Helping make Prof. Lessig’s case for him

So, Steve Jobs introduced iCloud to the world yesterday.

Michael Speck from Music Industry Piracy Investigations (the people who bring down pirates like Kazaa for the record industry) declared:

Apple was “no better than the old p2p pirates”.

Now, at one level, Apple is not doing that much that hasn’t already been done before: Apple own webpage compares its service to those already on offer from Amazon and Google. Here’s another 17 Apps Mr Jobs made redundant.

Presumably, what you “buy” from Apple through the iTunes store is covered by a licence. The thing that Mr Speck is concerned about is the iTunes Match service: if you let Apple scan your hard drive it will store on the iCloud server for you copies of – according to Mr Speck – all the music you have there; you paid music and music you, er, ripped yourself including pirated music files.  Tidbits’ summary of iTunes Match:

iTunes Match — What about the music you purchased elsewhere or ripped from CD yourself? For a $24.99 yearly fee, iTunes Match makes those songs available, too. iTunes uploads a list of songs in your library (much as it does now for the iTunes Genius results) and matches them (probably using music fingerprinting) against Apple’s collection of 18 million tracks. If you choose to download a track to a device where it doesn’t appear, Apple provides a version at iTunes Plus quality (256 Kbps and free of DRM), even if your original copy was ripped at a lower quality.

Hmm, so if an Australian user chooses the music files to be “matched”, that puts Apple in the territory of iiNet (unless of course Apple’s servers are “in” Australia too).

But wait you say, isn’t there a fair dealing defence? See if you can fit what is being proposed into this.

From what some of the other commentators say, however, it looks like Apple may have cut a deal with the record companies so that some percentage of the annual iTunes Match fee goes to the record companies – see the comments of Kim Weatherall and Colin Jacobs here.

If that were part of the deal with the record companies, then problem solved, but Mr Speck’s interpretation is that it just a unilateral position taken by Apple without the consent of the copyright owners.

Then, for those of us in Australia, there is another problem: when it launches, iTunes Match will be available only in the USA. It will become available in other parts of the world only when licences are negotiated with the copyright owners. Wonder how long it will take before (a) Apple gets around to negotiating with copyright owners for Australia and (b) the chances the copyright owners for Australia will agree to any of this? Remember how long it took for any copyright material to show up in the iBookstore?

On the topic of territorial copyright:

When Zengobi announced Curio Core it was priced (to US customers) at US$39.99. It’s currently available in the Apple Australia Mac App store for AU$47.99, even though the Australian $ currently buys (approx) US$1.06 (which translates into just under AU$38. You can have similar fun with lots of other items in the App stores. Choice magazine provides even more egregious examples for a host of brands.

What Prof Lessig’s case is.

Apple and Samsung Pt 2

Just noting this as a matter of record:

One week after Apple sued Samsung, Samsung sued Apple for patent infringements, apparently in 4 countries. One point of interest is that this is not Samsung’s defence to Apple’s claims, but is filed so soon after Apple went to court.

Nilay Patel considers it all in detail here.

Apple v Samsung

Nilay Patel at Thisismynext.com has embarked on an in depth examination of Apple’s new court action against Samsung.

Unlike the spectacularly unsuccessful war against Windows (based on copyright and ‘look and feel’), this action involves:

* patents;

* design patents; and

* trade dress.

The “thing that distinguishes this case from Apple’s other actions against other Android products is the trade dress component (and the piquancy of Samsung being a supplier of major components for the iPhone and the iPad).

Read Nilay’s take here. Marty’s view

Now, this case is not being brought in Australia but, if it were, one would wonder about the trade dress prospects given the clear Samsung branding in light of Parkdale v Puxu and its progeny such as Playcorp v Bodum. The only case where the trade dress got up in the face of clear branding is really the Jif Lemoncase, in which there was survey evidence showing an overwhelming preponderance of supermarket shoppers declaring they had bought a Jif Lemon, notwithstanding the swing tags and other clear branding.

Those cases did not, of course, involve design registrations as well (or the functional patents). And, even on trade dress, Apple’s complaint is at great pains to point out the level of detail at which resemblances can be drawn.

I guess we’ll see.