Apple Wins Ban on Two Android Devices: What It Means for You

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Last week, a U.S. District judge dealt a serious blow to Google and Samsung by slapping an injunction on the Galaxy Nexus phone and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a patent infringement lawsuit.

Although Judge Lucy Koh hasn’t found Samsung guilty of patent infringement–not yet, anyway–she ruled that Apple would suffer irreparable harm if the two Android devices were found to infringe Apple patents and remained on sale during the trial.

The Galaxy Nexus is Google’s lead Android device, so Koh’s ruling is the biggest patent setback for Android to date. (Samsung has appealed Koh’s ruling.)

I’m not a lawyer or a shareholder in any of the companies involved, so I’m less concerned with the legal maneuvering than I am with the patent wars’ effects on consumers. Let’s take a look at what the injunctions and the greater mobile patent wars mean for the people who are actually using the products:

Are existing users affected?

If you own a Galaxy Nexus or Galaxy Tab 10.1, no one’s going to show up at your doorstep and ask for it back. Your device will continue to work, but there’s always a chance that Google or Samsung may tweak their software in future updates to work around claims of patent infringement. My Galaxy S II, for instance, lost its “overscroll bounce” effect in an update late last year, and I suspect this was done to avoid a patent claim that Apple has wielded against other companies.

The patents at issue in the Samsung case deal with universal search, predictive text, slide-to-unlock and the ability to select an action when you tap on certain types of text. It’s not yet clear whether Google and Samsung can come up with workarounds.

Can you still buy a Galaxy Nexus or Galaxy Tab 10.1?

I can’t find the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 online, aside from a few refurbished units, but the device is now a year old and not worth buying. I’m guessing most retailers had already stopped selling it. Instead, you can get the Tab 2 10.1, which remains on sale at Best Buy and elsewhere.

The unlocked Galaxy Nexus remains on sale on Google’s website, but we’ll see what happens once Apple posts a $96 million bond that’s required to set the ban in motion. (If Samsung prevails at trial, it will get that bond money to make up for lost sales.) A Verizon store clerk, meanwhile, told Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff that the carrier will sell its remaining Galaxy Nexus stock, but can’t import any more units.

(UPDATE: Google has removed the Galaxy Nexus from its online shop, but told The Verge that it’ll be back next week with the latest version of Android. Google also told All Things Digital that it’s pushing out a software patch that works around the patent that the temporary injunction is based on. Presumably, the patch will be included on the Galaxy Nexus when it goes back on sale next week, but Google hasn’t confirmed this. In any case, Verizon is still selling the Galaxy Nexus on its website.)

Are all Android devices now doomed?

Aside from Samsung, Apple has also sued Motorola and HTC for patent infringement. The U.S. International Trade Commission found HTC guilty of infringing two patents, and its latest phones were briefly held up at customs in May while the company’s workarounds were approved. Apple claims that the workaround isn’t good enough, so HTC’s not out of the woods yet, but at the moment HTC’s Android phones are widely available.

Motorola also seems safe for the moment, following U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner’s decision to dismiss the entire case of Apple v. Motorola. Posner said neither side could prove damages, and Apple couldn’t show that an injunction would benefit itself more than it would hurt Motorola. Apple will most likely appeal the ruling.

Are Apple products at risk?

Of course, Apple’s rivals have filed counter-suits. The problem for Samsung and Motorola is that they’re relying on “standard-essential” patents that are required for telecommunications, and must be licensed on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Motorola, which is suing both Apple and Microsoft, over its use of these standard-essential patents to score injunctions. If the FTC requires Motorola to license its patents, the company will lose its ability to get Apple products banned.

MORE: Per Apple Request, Judge Orders Samsung to Halt Galaxy Tablet Sales

47 comments
Karl Klept
Karl Klept

Apple should stop trying to eliminate competition by abusing our flawed legal and patent system and get back to making better products. Taking competitive products off the market because they might possibly be hurting the most successful corporation on the planet is absurd.

Leon Rasec
Leon Rasec

They are gearing up for iPhone 5 release next year and don't want Samsung to overlap

Leon Rasec
Leon Rasec

Clearly, Apple is too scared of Android's sales supremacy. the Samsung Galaxy SIII is practically a better phone over the over advertised SIRI-powered iPhone 4S

dollyrama
dollyrama

Just order them from overseas or from Canada. I have just bought my Samsung Galaxy S3, and wow, what a phone. It's time to dump your apple junk.

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Roberto Lim
Roberto Lim

The article is interesting, but would have been nice if it looked at the long terms scenario more. Also, it really ignores the rest of the world market. Android phones shipping in the US like the HTC One XL have some features missing which are available in the international HTC One X. This battle is basically in the US market and some markets in Europe. If Apple succeeds, I wonder if we wont see a situation like when Nokia was the market leader without a substantial US market. Apple iPhones are just too expensive to take over all markets so some other manufacturer has to provide phones for these other markets. I guess this in part depends on how much Google cares about the market outside the US. 

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure I know yet what the long-term scenario will be, but based on what we've seen so far, it looks like we're in for a long game of cat and mouse: Android device makers put in small tweaks to their phones to get around Apple patents, and Apple claims it's not good enough and keeps the litigation going. Some of this depends on what happens with Google's use of FRAND patents, and some depends on whether Apple can actually prove damages. In any case, I see no light at the end of the tunnel.

As for the international picture, Time tends to be US-centric, so for sanity's sake that's where I focused. It also seems to be where the heart of these disputes are. But those points of yours are valid. 

Roberto Lim
Roberto Lim

Fair enough. I have read a fair amount this issue, and this is the first article I recall that has the perspective on the issue that I care about personally. Maybe something you can revisit from time to time. 

As for being US-centric. The web really gives a writer readership bigger than one can hope cater too.  Still, readers from other countries will continue to follow and read Time's articles, and will complain from time to time. But yes, the new smaller world is still rather large.  

Muhammad Nur Aslam
Muhammad Nur Aslam

trying to make it clear to its competitors so much has something different to further strengthen itself as one of the companies that have the power.

GizmoDuck
GizmoDuck

I bet Steve Jobs would be happy about this. Too bad he is burning in hell.

William Petrie
William Petrie

This comment isnt neccesary. Steve Jobs changed the world by creating Apple Inc.

soulhunter
soulhunter

changing the world doesnt mean your a good guy

RudyRay
RudyRay

Boycott Apple.

rattyuk
rattyuk

Preaching to the converted, I assume that the majority of Android fans would be doing that already.

RudyRay
RudyRay

Indeed. What will be interesting is if this turns non kool aid drinking apple users away from the company. Based on the almost universally negative sentiment towards these bans, I'd say that it will.

Milind
Milind

Precisely.  Those of us in the Tech Industry knew about Microsoft's shenanigans in the early 90s.  It wasn't until they became a convicted monopolist that the shine came off for mainstream users.  It's pretty obvious from the near universal condemnation and ire at Apple (and to some extent Judge Koh, and the USPTO) regarding this ban that this will start spreading in time over to the mainstream consciousness - especially in the US.  Worldwide,  Apple hasn't done as good a snow job as they have in the US.  This along with the working conditions of people who put together their devices will eventually tarnish that image - something that they will never recover.

William Petrie
William Petrie

Sorry. It aint happening. We want on time update for our devices.

Richard Raseley
Richard Raseley

It has become clear to nearly everyone of relevance that the patent system (as it relates to software) is completely broken and has become a bludgeon which companies use to bash competition - not "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts".

Please join the EFF's "Defend Innovation" initiative and work towards fixing this broken system.https://defendinnovation.org/ 

val2gg
val2gg

"The patents at issue in the Samsung case deal with universal search, predictive text, slide-to-unlock and the ability to select an action when you tap on certain types of text"

All of the above were present in the Palm Pilot and Treo smartphones years before iPhone was released. It is a SHAME that such patents are granted and enforced. Apple is the Microsoft of our days. The US patents system should be completely abolished and the patent office closed down. They are a disgrace to the nation!

rhonin
rhonin

One benefit I can see coming from this: Google joining the issue and a legal challenge to the "patents".  Most people forget Google has on tap one of the best legal teams available.

I am wondering if Apple will post the 95mil$ bond for this or let it ride.

richelu
richelu

Apple has to post the bond for the ban to actually be started. Until the money is posted, the devices can continue to be imported.

iKing_1
iKing_1

The notion that Apple, or any company for that matter, should just sit back and allow their patented IP to be infringed upon without consequence is absolutely absurd. As a publicly traded company, they have a right and a responsibility to their shareholders to protect their legally awarded patents, copyrights and trademarks. Apparently even Google understands this as well:

Google has sued Froogles.com, charging the rival shopping search engine with trademark infringement

http://news.cnet.com/Google-su...

It is the height of ignorance to suggest that patent litigation somehow threatens innovation or that Apple is afraid of competition. If anything, patent litigation PROTECTS innovation because a company cannot just sit back, allow another company to do all of the heavy lifting, do all of the Ramp;D, produce expensive prototypes, incur all of the expense that it takes to bring a product to market, and steal the IP without consequence. Competition is healthy, but no company should be forced to compete against their own IP. And for the record, this isn't some pro-Apple rant. If it is proven that Apple has infringed upon another company's IP, then they should pay the price just like every one else. But to suggest that a company is participating in anti-competitive behavior because they are fiercely protecting their IP is insane.

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

The rush to court is a sign that Steve Jobs is gone and the company is running low on leadership.  How has Apple innovated lately?  By slapping a retina screen onto its MacBook Pro?  The iPhone 4S has a lovely display but the screen is small and the 3G runs a little slow.  You can't swap batteries and the 30-pin port requires a behemoth of a cable.  For all the hype surrounding Siri, Apple didn't invent the software; it bought the company that did.  This magic eight ball gimmick requires network access, forcing Apple to get into the information management business, a field in which Google is the market leader.  Time will tell whether Apple continues to be regarded as the market leader, but this is a field where design elegance and hype can only get you so far.  I've seen this movie before.  This is the part where Apple, smug about its past successes, goes to sleep while the rest of the market overtakes it - in this case, with faster phones, bigger displays, swappable batteries and a less-restrictive marketplace for app development.  Smug on, Apple.  You got favorable rulings from one trial judge 10 miles from your corporate HQ.  We'll see how it goes when the fight moves to the court of appeals in D.C.

rattyuk
rattyuk

Nice idea, Bill. Save for the fact that these cases were initiated while he was still on his feet and have just taken this long to hit. The Galaxy 10.1? Like how old is that?

Oh, and then follows a litany of new stuff that Apple have done that you are poo pooing that will be coming to a PC as a differentiator in the coming months. Like Ultrabooks, I wonder where Intel got their inspiration for that one? I see that in the UK Dell are advertising their new laptop as being the first PC to be carved out of a single block of Aluminum. Pedantically I assume that they consider the unibody Macs to not be PCs. Ho Hum.

The irony of you comparing Siri to a "magic 8 ball" when Google have just released the Q is not wasted on me.

If Apple brings stuff to market first and makes them work then they will always be a market leader. Microsoft had a 10-15 year go at failing to make tablets work and I am sure you were up there with the rest of the naysayers saying that the iPad would be a massive failure.

The "old phones" argument fails too. People don't like breaking their contract. There is no need for Apple to release major updates less than every two years. The buyers won't be there. 

"We'll see how it goes when the fight moves to the court of appeals in D.C."

Unless Google, Motorola and Samsung have anything other than F/RAND based patents to fight their corner then that will be an uphill battle.

robertoblake
robertoblake

One interesting point is that Apple tries to insist more or less that it is the only one entitled to sell products that look a certain way aesthetically and want to use that in their legal battles. 

Yet the look and feel of their products, or even the concept of them is not original at all. You only need to look at the old Star Trek series and Back to the Future remember the "Data Pads"? 

This kind of posturing is harmful for development and the future. Can you imagine if the Soviet Union had said we couldn't build rockets because they came up with it first (not 100% on who came up with it first but you get my point).Innovation is about competing, and excluding people to your advantage is not competing, its stacking the deck. When competition happens consumers win, the human race wins. 

richelu
richelu

Actually, Microsoft based tablets failed because the technology was really not at the point to make it successful. Touch screens were in their infancy and they were clumsy and not the high technology devices they are today. Also, battery technology just was not there to support the fad. As a result, the early tablets were not as convenient to carry since they were just about as heavy as the laptops in the day(read some of the current reviews for tablets today and they they slam one tablet versus another over a few ounces). Apple enjoyed success with their tablets because the tech finally got to the point of supporting light weight high performance products and Steve Jobs realized this. For that he was a visionary.

At the same time, Apple is either very blind or they are deliberately holding back major improvement while trying to milk their loyal followers for minor upgrades. Can you answer the question of why it has taken Apple so long to adopt an LTE modem(they finally introduced it on the iPad3)? Don't tell me the infrastructure was not there as Verizon has had commercial LTE networks out for almost two years now (trust me my company has been building them) and ATamp;T is building theirs at a blinding rate currently, yet the 4s can not utilize those networks (let me know when you are able to get 30Mb/s downloads on your 4s ... oh wait never). From what I understand, the iPhone 5 will finally get an LTE modem and Apple will probably sing the praises of being and innovator for it and try to milk more money from their followers for an incremental upgrade.

While you are at it, can you tell me why their cameras that they have used on the iPad2 were so lackluster? I have a friend who purchased her iPad with the hopes of using it to take pictures and video of her child and was very disappointed with the picture quality.

One of the items that Apple is so high on with the IP war is the "Slide to Unlock" feature. Guess what, they were not the innovators of that feature.

http://www.bbc.com/news/techno... 

Apple need to get off its high horse and stop these ridiculous patent suits (some patents of which should never have been granted in the first place) and get back to innovating. In the end, all these patent wars do is stifle development and the consumer is the one who loses.

BillKilpatrick
BillKilpatrick

Yes, we all know how the dying Steve threatened to destroy Android, but whether court battles are as good as innovation is still up in the air.  Eli Whitney was famous for the cotton gin and mass production through interchangeable parts, but he spent his fortune in court, which is why Edison chose to keep innovating, instead.  Apple had quite a hit with the original iPhone, and it has managed to make changes to the product with each generation, but it's getting quite a bit of competition over product features it has dragged its feet on, like display size, its choice of jacks, its inability to swap batteries and its tight control over app development.  

If Apple wants to go after the Nexus over a search box, let it see how far it can ride off of one court's decision - made 10 miles from Apple's HQ.  But make no mistake about it.  Nobody bought the Nexus for its search box.  They bought it because its screen was an inch larger.  It didn't copy Apple's glass-and-aluminum elegance, but it has a swappable battery, a back cover you can replace for $6 and 4G/LTE, which offers much faster speeds than any iPhone.  The Nexus has a different kind of screen - the Super AMOLED - which doesn't quite have the pixel density of the Apple's TFT retina display, but even with a pentile arrangement, it's a close call - and the one is hardly copied from the other.

Apple is just using litigation for strategic purposes, which it has a legal right to do.  But there is a difference between winning a case in court (in this case, winning a TRO) and prevailing in the marketplace.  Today, it is doing both but this case was brought because Apple's lead is slipping.  It will continue to slip if it continues to offer excuses in the face of other manufacturers' innovations.  Right now, Apple may have a "better" screen but it's considerably smaller.  It is poised to adopt the 4G standard but it hasn't yet.  All that glass and aluminum elegance is typically mummified within a bumper or Otterbox, and you can't swap the battery or use a standard cable.  Apple may still claim that it offers the best OS, but Android has gotten so good - and with innovations of its own - that smugness is no longer an option.  

Josh Destardi
Josh Destardi

Apple sucks.  Read this from the SAME judge in Dec 2011 on an Apple and Samsung lawsuit:

http://www.dailytech.com/Judge... 

It clearly states that Apple themselves admit that there would be no loss in sales due to Samsung's tablets or smartphones, which is the crux of this whole patent suit.

As Samsung says, there is no proof and Apple can't prove that their sales are being harmed. 

APPLE IS DISGUSTING and so is Lucy Koh for ignoring Apple's original admittance.

Patrick Ryan
Patrick Ryan

The patents that Apple are trying to claim infringement on is completely ridiculous! It is basic UI functionality! Like a slide to unlock!. That is like Honda trying to sue other car companies for having their cars start with a key ignition system as well. It just infuriates me to see Apple trying to stifle innovation of other companies rather than just trying to one up the innovation themselves. The ONLY reason I can see Apple doing this is because they don't have iPhone5 ready for at least a few more Quarters and Samsung, HTC , and Motorola all have new flagship line ups coming out and they are afraid of losing customers, it is a pretty piss poor way of competitive business to try and stomp out the competition by banning their products. 

George Mathews
George Mathews

I am sharing this comment with my friends...haha, spot on with the honda analogy

robertoblake
robertoblake

Apple should stop trying to block its competition from the market and prove the worth of their products by simply "beating" the competition. Let consumers decide whether the products are the "same" or not, their spending will make it very obvious. Even if they were the same they are not valued the same.

I was a cross country runner. If someone "copied" my work out and training regimen, I would just beat them at the race by digging deep and pushing harder. That simple.

sonic91
sonic91

" My opinion regarding the global warming blah blah blah!" Wew... Finally, finished my essay. Gotta pass it tomorrow.

Next day...

Hacker friend: Dude, hacked your google docs account, and your composition rocks! yeah!

lrd555
lrd555

Sorry it's not that simple. Apple spends like billions of dollars every year on research. When it thinks it has come up with something new that could add value , like product differentiation, it patents it like any inventor would. If a competitor, who's sat on the sideline and watches for the most part Apple do this, then decides to add this patented feature so as to minimize the differentiation, than Apple has no recourse but to sue.

Apple isn't going to fund Samsung's amp; Google's research effort. They have enough $ to fund their own research. Don't steal other's IP.

richelu
richelu

How much did Apple spend on the "Slide to Unlock" feature that is included in the so-called patent infringement case?

Oh wait, there was another phone manufacturer that already had it before the iPhone.

http://www.bbc.com/news/techno... 

Srikanth Raju
Srikanth Raju

Sorry. Apple hardly spends that much money on "research", let alone billions of dollars. If any organisation spent that sort of money on research, we could have cured AIDs, removed disease and found unlimited energy.

The problem with these software patents is that regulators are lawyers are fooled into giving big companies patents for stupid things. These so called "ideas" are usually common sense and any number of people can come up with them, but whoever can file it first gets away with the "patent".

This is controlling the market and I suspect this "judge" is deep in Apples pockets. A few months is the entire lifecycle of a product in technology and shutting down competitors over an unconfirmed patent infringement is most definitely Hilterian. So much for "Innocent until proven guilty"

IQMinusOne
IQMinusOne

Software is not that easy to copy if you don't reveal the source code. In fact, the source codes of Apple and Google/Samsung are very different. What Apple is suing for is what most programmers would say trolling. And the US legal system is ganging up on a foreign hardware manufacturer.

Kwabena Aning
Kwabena Aning

I'm sorry by selecting an action from data context is not an apple invention. That patent should not have been granted in the first place. The four patents apple are using to block are listed here (

http://www.i-programmer.info/n... ) in simple terms you can take a look at them for yourself and make your mind if they are valid or not. In my opinion they are ridiculous and do not constitute research and development done by apple

val2gg
val2gg

"I was a cross country runner. If someone "copied" my work out and

training regimen, I would just beat them at the race by digging deep and

pushing harder. That simple."

 Well said!!!

Tealjay
Tealjay

The whole "copying" argument is pretty shoddy at best. How do you prove they copied? Most of the patents infringed are minor features that are added into the phone. If Android was truly copied, shouldn't the major parts of the OS be under attack? This is why Apple's claims are virtually nonsense. The more press they get, the more bad PR they will get. No one wants to hear about a litigation war, especially if they are a shareholder. Even if you win, the legal fees have to be paid by someone.