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Judge thwarts Apple's bid to ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will live to fight another day in the American market after a U.S. district court declined to grant Apple a ban on Samsung's tablet until a federal appeals court completes its review of the case.

Judge Lucy Koh with the California district court said that her court "currently lacks jurisdiction to issue a preliminary injunction as requested by Apple because the Federal Circuit has not yet issued the mandate."

Her decision dates back to December, when Judge Koh denied Apple's request for a preliminary injunction against four Samsung products - including the Galaxy Tab - that Cupertino claimed infringed upon its patents. Apple appealed and last month, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) remanded a design-related patent back to Judge Koh's court, giving Apple another chance to have the Galaxy Tab 10.1 essentially banned in the States.

Samsung appealed the CAFC decision, and as a result, Judge Koh said that she cannot consider that Galaxy Tab-related patent until the CAFC appeals process is complete.

"The general rule is that once a notice of appeal is filed it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of jurisdiction with respect to matters involved with the appeal," Koh wrote in her decision.

If Judge Koh ruled on the issue before the CAFC made its final determination, "the court would effectively alter the status quo," Koh wrote. "In this case, Samsung was engaged in selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the time of the appeal. Thus, granting an injunction would prohibit Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1, altering the respective rights of the parties and changing the status quo that existed at the time of the appeal."

As patent blogger Florian Mueller pointed out, Apple argued that Judge Koh could rule on the issue, pointing to a 1951 case in which the district court moved to protect the public from harmful, misbranded drugs. But, Mueller said in a blog post, "the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not a threat to consumers."

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4

Meanwhile, "Apple argued that the 'status quo' should be preserved, but Apple's definition of 'status quo' was the market situation prior to the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, while Samsung argued that the status quo was the situation that after Judge Koh's December 2011 denial of Apple's first preliminary injunction motion," Mueller wrote.

A hearing on the Galaxy Tab issue was set for 7 June, but that meeting will now focus on Apple's bid to ban the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, Mueller said.

On the Galaxy smartphone front, meanwhile, Mueller also speculated whether the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III will also be rolled into Apple's case.

"It appears that the design of the S III is much more distinguishable from Apple's products than that of its predecessors, so Apple would have to assert utility (technical) rather than design patents," Mueller wrote. "Getting the S III banned (or forcing Samsung to modify it significantly in order to work around a ban) would be a very significant victory for Apple. What Apple needs to find are some suitable technical patents."