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I know, your eyes are probably glazing over by now at yet another Apple v. Samsung patent story. It seems scarcely a week goes by without one of the two companies winning a point, losing a point, filing an appeal, winning an appeal, losing an appeal or applying for some kind of court order. And if you were losing count, the latest news reported by FOSS Patents that a California court has rejected Apple’s application for an injunction against Samsung still relates to the original patent battle between the two companies which began back in 2011.

Apple was originally awarded almost a billion dollars in damages for patent infringements by Samsung. Apple had argued that monetary damages were insufficient, and that the court should also have ordered that the infringing products be withdrawn from sale … 

Given that the products in question are now obsolete, you might think this was somewhat academic three years on. But Apple didn’t care about obtaining this particular injunction. What it wanted was to establish the precedent that it is not always enough to award damages when Samsung is found to have infringed an Apple patent – sometimes the only acceptable response is to remove the Samsung product from sale. If Apple had established that point, it would be in a far stronger position with the next round of patent battles about to begin.

Judge Lucy Koh rejected the call for an injunction, however, arguing in essence that the patent infringements were not the reason consumers bought the Samsung products, and that Apple would gain too much of a competitive advantage if competitor products were withdrawn from sale.

To award an injunction to Apple in these circumstances would ignore the Federal Circuit’s warning that a patentee may not ”leverage its patent for competitive gain beyond that which the inventive contribution and value of the patent warrant.”

The precedent suggests that the likely outcome of future patent infringement cases between the two companies will be similarly limited to financial damages rather than product injunctions.