Samsung's older phones banned - but Google, Facebook, others rally with firm against Apple

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Samsung suffered a symbolic loss in its ongoing patent fight with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), but the company is gaining some heavyweight allies as it hopes to take on the iPhone vendor in the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Monday granted Apple's request for a permanent injunction, prohibiting Samsung from importing or selling phones in the United States that feature software previously found to infringe on Apple's patents. The move comes eight months after Samsung was found to have violated Apple's patents for data detectors, slide-to-unlock and predictive text input and applies to older phones including the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S III and Stratosphere devices, among others.

As reporters and analysts have noted, though, those are all older smartphones that have largely been replaced during the past several years by new Samsung devices. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents observed that while Koh's ruling may have an impact on future cases, it means very little to the case at hand in any practical terms.

"It's not that the issues aren't important; they definitely are. But in the practical context of the Apple-Samsung patent dispute, this injunction doesn't matter," Mueller wrote. "So the injunction isn't going to have any direct impact, but at a meta-level it does have some relevance."

Meanwhile, Samsung publicized a series of "friend-of-the-court" briefs from major tech companies urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Korean manufacturer's appeal of its patent loss to Apple. Samsung last month asked the Supreme Court to consider a $399 million judgment for illegally copying patented features and designs of the iPhone.

The Korean company hopes the court opts to review design patents for the first time in more than 120 years. Samsung claims the jury wasn't given enough information about the purpose of design patents, and that the damages awarded to Apple were inflated considering the relative unimportance of the patented features at the heart of the case.

Google, Facebook, Dell, HP and others weighed in in support of Samsung this week, opining that the "interpretation of the antiquated laws" could diminish innovation, encourage patent trolls and negatively affect consumers and the economy.

"The Federal Circuit's decision is deeply flawed," several companies wrote in a single amicus brief. "If allowed to stand, it will lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies… that spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technological products and their components."

For more:
- see this injunction order
- read this Samsung statement

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