SHOCKER: Apple Can Demand a BAN on This Competitor

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is allowed to try and ask for a ban on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy tablets in the U.S. while a patent-infringement case is pending, a U.S. appeals court has ruled. Apple had sued Samsung last year after alleging the Korean company’s Galaxy line copied the iPhone and the iPad.

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While a California district court judge had earlier ruled that Apple failed to show that it was likely to succeed in its attempts to block Samsung, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the California company’s appeal. Apple’s patent was likely to withstand validity challenges, so the trial judge should consider imposing an order that would block sales until a trial can be held, the appellate court ruled.

The appeals court said that the district court’s rejection of Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction was flawed on one count. “With respect to the tablet patent and product, however, the court found that Apple had shown a likelihood of irreparable harm,” Judge Willam Bryson wrote on Monday.

This judgment is on only one of four patents infringement allegations made by Apple against Samsung. The trial judge’s rejection of a ban on Samsung products based on the three other patents was approved by the appellate court.

The case is part of Apple’s major efforts against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-run phones and tablets, which, it says, copied features that make the iPhone and iPad unique. It is also suing HTC and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) separately. All three have countered with their own patent cases against Apple.

Samsung has already been forced to delay launching some Galaxy devices in Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia because of the legal issues, while it has altered its design for other products.

Bryson also ruled that the iPad was not sufficiently similar to Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE:HPQ) “TC1000” tablet or to the Fidler, a tablet designed by graphic designer Roger Fidler in 1994.

Fidler, whose tablet design is now famous as an early example of the “electronic newspaper” of the future, served as a paid expert witness for Samsung in the case, with the Korean company arguing that his design was sufficient to demonstrate prior art.

“Rather than looking to the ‘general concept’ of a tablet, the district court should have focused on the distinctive ‘visual appearances’ of the reference and the claimed design,” the court ruled.

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