Federal Court grants interlocutory injunction to Apple to prevent Samsung’s sale of tablet device

In a lengthy judgement, Bennett J has granted Apple an interlocutory injunction to prevent Samsung from marketing its tablet computer device in Australia pending full trial (Apple Inc. v Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd [2011] FCA 1164).

Justice Bennett based her decision principally on 2 of 5 patents Apple alleged were infringed, a “Touch Screen” patent and a “Heuristics” patent. Interestingly, her honour was prepared to consider the validity of the patents in some detail despite the fact that the matter was an interlocutory hearing. Whilst not making a final decision, her honour suggested that the Touch Screen patent was of doubtful validity, but seemed comfortable that the Heuristics patent exhibited at least prima facie validity. Justice Bennett did not go into great detail on the infringement point, but again it appeared she thought the Heuristics patent was likely infringed.

The key determinant of the hearing appears to have been that the tablet device will have a relatively short market-life. This meant that Apple would effectively lose much of the benefit of its patents if Samsung was able to market pending full trial, as this may take 1 to 2 years.

Again, it will be interesting to see whether an appeal is lodged to the Full Federal Court. Given the comments on timing, an appeal would appear likely.

Contact: If you have any specific enquiries about this decision, or interlocutory injunctions more generally, please contact Paul Jones.