Key ruling casts doubt on veracity of Apple's 'design' patents for tablets and smartphones.

Apple fails to block Samsung from US market

A judge in the US has denied Apple’s move to block the sale of a range of Samsung Android devices in the ongoing patent infringement dispute.

The ruling is particularly important because is means that the latest Samsung devices including the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available for sale in the large American market during the peak shopping period.

California district judge Lucy Koh failed to be swayed by Apple’s argument that the Samsung devices would cause irreparable harm if they were introduced onto the American market.

Judge Koh seemed to be put more stock in Samsung’s own evidence that granting an injunction to Apple would benefit more of Samsung’s other Android rivals rather than Apple.

The ruling also placed in doubt Apple’s continued pursuit of so-called design related patents with the court making the rather obvious point that handheld sizes and screen sizes and speaker grills on the top of the phone were entirely practical in nature.

In a lengthy deconstruction of the ruling, oft-times pro-Apple patent analyst Florian Meuller said that design patterns are "not the answer" for Apple’s dispute with the Korean rival.

"If Apple wants to defend market share against Samsung (and other Android device makers), it really needs to focus on solid technical patents instead," said Meuller who also noted that the late Steve Job’s own patents were overwhelmingly design related.

The ruling means that Samsung will be free to sell the disputed devices in the US at least until the full court case in the middle of next year.

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