Court refuses Apple a rehearing on Galaxy Nexus injunction plea

Apple said the court had introduced a new requirement for issuing injunctions

A U.S. appeals court has denied Apple a rehearing on the rejection of an injunction on Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Nexus. Apple had earlier questioned a criterion for preliminary injunctions used by the court.

The company asked the court to review its earlier ruling that to secure a preliminary injunction, a 'causal nexus' had to be established between the infringing feature and consumer demand for the accused product.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also denied Thursday Apple's motion for a rehearing by a full court of its petition, without giving reasons.

The causal nexus criterion requires the patent holder to prove, as a prerequisite to securing a preliminary injunction, that the patented feature drives consumer demand for the accused product, Apple said in its petition. Neither the Supreme Court nor the appeals court has ever before imposed such a feature-specific prerequisite to injunctive relief, it said.

Electronic devices contain a host of features, many patented, that are not even apparent to consumers but which enhance the utility and ultimately the value of the product, according to Apple. "In cases involving such products, and many others, circumstantial evidence will be important to establishing the prerequisites to a preliminary injunction," it added.

There are only four factors that courts have traditionally considered in issuing preliminary injunctions: likelihood of success, irreparable injury, balance of hardships, and public interest, Apple said. The court has however held that causal nexus is part of the showing of irreparable harm.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division ordered in June a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy Nexus, but it was vacated by the appeals court.

The record does not permit the inference that the allegedly infringing features of the Galaxy Nexus drive consumer demand, the appeals court ruled in October. Apple claims that Samsung infringes in the Quick Search Box of Galaxy Nexus a unified search feature used in the Siri voice assistant, which is disclosed in the disputed patent bearing U.S. patent number 8,086,604.

Apple and Samsung have a number of legal battles in the U.S. and abroad. In another lawsuit before the District Court in California, Judge Lucy H. Koh on Tuesday granted judgment as matter of law that Samsung's patent infringement was not willful, and declined to raise the US$1.05 billion in damages earlier awarded to Apple by a jury. The court also refused Samsung a retrial.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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