Apple just can't catch a break in its long-running US-based court battle against Samsung. After a jury awarded Apple over $2 billion less in damages than it had sought, the consumer electronics giant tried a different tact: An injunction preventing the sale of Samsung's infringing products in the United States. But the judge overseeing the case has tossed out that request. Apple, it seems, just hasn't been damaged enough by Samsung's copying to warrant such a move.
So much for the home court advantage.
"Apple has not established that it suffered significant harm in the form of either lost sales or reputational injury," US District Court Judge Lucy Koh wrote in a ruling issued Wednesday. "Moreover, Apple has not shown that it suffered any of these alleged harms because Samsung infringed Apple's patents. The Federal Circuit has cautioned that [Apple] must demonstrate a causal nexus between its supposed harm (including reputational harm) and the specific infringement at issue. Apple has not demonstrated that the patented inventions drive consumer demand for the infringing products."
Samsung said it welcomed the ruling. "We remain committed to providing American consumers with a wide choice of innovative products," a Samsung statement notes.
Separately, Apple and Samsung agreed to settle all non-US patent battles earlier this month, and this week's ruling is part of the second of two court battles that Apple and Samsung have waged in the US in recent years. In May, a jury awarded Apple $120 million in damages after it found that Samsung had infringed on three of Apple's patents. That was far less than the $2.2 billion that Apple had sought, so the firm hoped that an injunction would put the hurt on Samsung instead.
This second trial has been less successful than the first—in which Apple was awarded some $930 million in damages after a series of recalculations—in other ways as well. Apple had originally sued Samsung for infringing on five patents in this case, which involved newer Samsung products than the first trial. But Samsung has effectively chipped away at the validity of the patents involved, as Apple has somehow received patents for technologies it did not invent.
In one example, the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated one Apple patent involved in the most recent case, citing previous use. But the current damages assessment is based in part of Samsung having infringed on that patent, which Apple does not now own. So the damages will presumably be recalculated or potentially overturned.
And even if Samsung does eventually pay the over $1 billion in damages fees assessed over the two cases, it won't impact the company materially. Samsung currently has over $60 billion in cash and cash-like holdings, and despite the inevitable slowdown of its devices businesses, the world's largest maker of smart phones has posted over $15 billion in profits in the first half of 2014 alone.