As many of our readers may be aware, Apple won a significant victory over competitor Samsung with the order of a preliminary injunction against the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. As a refresher, Apple sued Samsung in the Federal Court of Australia – New South Wales District Registry (analogous to the U.S. District Courts) seeking to block the sales of the competing Galaxy tablet back in July due to alleged patent infringement. After hearings on the matter, the primary judge of the FCA-NSWDR issued an order granting the interlocutory relief, enjoining Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the land down under.
In a somewhat humorous manner, the Australian Court explains the background of the matter to the technologically lay person. Maybe I’m just nerdy, but I imagined this being spoken in a tone I would use to explain to my dog why she needs to “sit” before she can have a “treat.” Enjoy:
Apple markets in Australia a tablet computer known as the “iPad”. The iPad uses an operating system known as “iOS”. Apple alleges that Samsung proposes to market in Australia a tablet computer known as the “Galaxy Tab 10.1” (the Galaxy Tab 10.1) which uses an operating system known as “Android”. The Android operating system is available for use by many other manufacturers of computing and similar equipment. The iOS is available for use only with Apple products. Apple alleges that the importation, sale and promotion of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will infringe claims in 13 of its patents. It also alleges breach or anticipated breach of the Australian Consumer Law and passing off. Samsung denies these allegations and has cross-claimed, seeking revocation of certain patents held by Apple and alleging infringement by Apple of certain patents held by Samsung.
Yesterday, the Federal Court of Australia – Full Court (analogous to U.S. Circuit Courts) reversed the injunction, politely slamming the District Judge by stating, in part:
Her Honour was obliged to make … an assessment for the purpose of deciding whether Apple had made out a prima facie case of sufficient strength to justify the grant of an interlocutory injunction to restrain infringement of its patents. In this case, given that the grant or refusal of interlocutory injunctive relief was going to have the practical consequence of deciding Apple’s claims for final injunctions and thus deciding the commercial fate of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Apple was required to demonstrate a relatively strong case.
In addition to deciding whether Apple had made out such a prima facie case, her Honour was also required to assess the strength of that case so that she could take into account her views on that matter in her assessment of the balance of convenience and justice.
The primary judge did not undertake either of these evaluative tasks. Her Honour’s failure to do so constituted important errors which led her to grant interlocutory injunctive relief in circumstances where, for reasons which we will explain, she should not have done so. In our view, her decision was clearly wrong and should be set aside. The discretion falls to be re-exercised by this Court.
The repeal of the injunction is effective immediately. Bottles of champagne have been popping in Samsung’s legal department since last night.