FOSS Patents reports that the judge overseeing the Samsung vs. Apple case has ruled in Apple’s favor regarding Samsung’s request to examine Apple’s next-generation, high-profile mobile devices: the iPhone 5 and iPad 3. Although this is good news for Apple (and expected news), Apple might still have to wait on obtaining preliminary injunction against Samsung’s ability to sell their devices in question in the United States.
This possibility comes from this key line from the judge on the case:
Samsung is free to argue, for instance, that there is little likelihood of confusion because consumers will not encounter its products side-by-side with the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, but rather with Apple’s next generation iPhone and iPad. Similarly, as to proximity, Samsung is free to argue that because the iPhone 4 and iPhone 2 will soon be outmoded and reduced in price, they are not being sold (or very soon will not be sold) to the same class of purchasers who are likely to buy new Samsung products. By choosing to allege infringement only of its current products, Apple opens itself up to these arguments.
Essentially, Samsung can argue that they should not be banned from selling the devices in question in the United States (like the Nexus and Galaxy devices) as these devices – both tablets and smartphones – are currently up against the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Samsung could argue that Apple’s next-generation devices will be different in appearance, resolving Apple’s argument that the appearance of their devices has been copied by Samsung. Apple, of course, will not reveal the design and features for unreleased products.
If Apple can present the iPhone 5 to the court and show that the alleged problem of “consumer confusion” is essentially the same as currently (in terms of similarities between the Galaxy handset and the iPhone 4), Apple’s motion for an injunction is no less likely to succeed (though it’s clear that Samsung would try to overstate any possible differences in design).
FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller closes his report by noting that Apple would have the best chance in accomplishing injunction against Samsung if they only motion for injunction when the iPhone 5 arrives in September- or when Apple wants to show their next-generation smartphone to the court (which will likely never happen prior to the public reveal):
If Apple would rather avoid this kind of impression, it might want to proceed cautiously and wait with a preliminary injunction motion until the iPhone 5 can be shown, or present only a tablet-related motion in the very near term and a smartphone-related one a little later.