The history of today's ruling goes back to December of 2012, when U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh denied a motion from Apple seeking a permanent injunction of 23 Samsung devices. At the time, Apple claimed
Apple successfully argued a partial appeal of the ruling at the Federal Circuit, which in November of 2013 sent the motion back to Judge Koh for further review. The federal appeals court affirmed the denial of trade dress, or design, patents, but found an injunction over infringement of Apple's software patents worth investigating.
As noted by FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, the district court was not ordered to issue the injunction, but Apple was thought to have a fighting chance at a ban following the CAFC remand.
With Thursday's ruling, it appears Judge Koh was not swayed by Apple's further arguments.
The implications of the ruling are much larger than an injunction against 23 out-of-date products. The goal for Apple was to establish a favorable precedent in obtaining such injunctions in future court proceedings.
Apple and Samsung are about to step into their second California patent trial, scheduled to start at the end of March, and the parties are grasping at anything they can to reach legal high ground. With the setback, it is becoming increasingly clear that Apple will have to take a different tack on the "causal nexus" between patent infringement and irreparable harm.
Mueller believes Judge Koh feels Samsung's competition is lawful, which will be an issue going into the second case. He points to a key excerpt from today's ruling, found in the jurist's explanation in denying Apple's monetary damages claim:
Apple, in other words, cannot obtain a permanent injunction merely because Samsung's lawful competition impacts Apple in a way that monetary damages cannot remedy. 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."
Apple will be able to appeal the ruling if it discovers another basis of review.