There has been another turn tonight in the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung. A US district judge in California has denied Apple's request for a preliminary injunction to stop sales of some Galaxy smartphones and tablets. The move obviously means that Samsung will be able to continue to sell Android phones and tablets here in the US for the time being, but Judge Lucy Koh noted that Apple had proven it's likely to succeed in proving that Samsung's product infringe its patents — the injunction wasn't granted because Apple didn't prove that leaving Samsung's products on the market would cause irreparable harm. If Apple ultimately wins, Samsung will just have to pay damages on whatever infringing products it sold in the meantime.

In particular, the court ruled that one of Apple's smartphone design patents and one of its software patents were likely valid and likely infringed by Samsung's products, but that there was no irreparable harm to leaving the products on the market. An Apple design patent on tablets was ruled both likely infringed by Samsung and causing irreparable harm because of the lack of viable competitors in the market, but the court said the patent itself was likely invalid due to prior art. Here's a summary list of the patents at issue, the products accused of infringing, and the court's decision on each one:

  • Design Patent D618,677: asserted against Samsung's Galaxy S and Infuse smartphones.
    • Likely valid.
    • Likely infringed.
    • No irreparable harm to Apple.
  • Design Patent D593,087: asserted against Samsung's Galaxy S and Infuse smartphones.
    • Likely invalid.
    • Likely infringed.
    • No irreparable harm to Apple.
  • Design Patent D504,889: asserted against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1.
  • Patent 7,469,381: software patent on scrolling behavior asserted against Samsung's Galaxy S, Infuse, Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1.
    • Likely valid.
    • Likely infringed.
    • No irreparable harm to Apple.

In the long run, the ruling means that Apple's lost a major battle but is still strongly positioned to win the war; the next major fight will be competing motions for summary judgement in a few months. 

Apple declined to provide a formal statement on this ruling, but Samsung is obviously quite happy — here's the statement we just received:

Samsung welcomes today's ruling denying Apple's request for a preliminary injunction. This ruling confirms our long-held view that Apple's arguments lack merit. In particular, the court has recognized that Samsung has raised substantial questions about the validity of certain Apple design patents. We are confident that we can demonstrate the distinctiveness of Samsung's mobile devices when the case goes to trial next year. We will continue to assert our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple's claims to ensure our continued ability to provide innovative mobile products to consumers.

Matt Macari and Nilay Patel contributed to this report