Court delays plague Apple's smartphone patent litigation

Based on recent actions, court delays may be Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) biggest challenge in its efforts to assert its patents against the likes of HTC, Samsung and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said in an order that Apple's request to block the June 21 U.S. launch of Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone could not be accommodated because it would effectively overload her calendar. Koh is also set to preside over a patent trial between Apple and Samsung that starts next month.

Indeed, an Apple attorney complained of Samsung's release schedule. "Samsung is always one step ahead, launching another product and another product," said Apple attorney Josh Krevitt, according to Reuters.

Apple argues that the Galaxy S III should be blocked because the phone contains the same infringing elements as earlier phones. 

The ruling from Koh follows one from U.S. federal Judge Richard Posner, who tentatively ruled last week that a patent trial set to start between Apple and Motorola would be canceled because of a lack of evidence of harm the two sides have suffered. Posner also wrote that granting injunctions against patent infringements would impose costs disproportionate to the harm or benefit on each side, and would not be in the public interest. Posner's ruling was not final and Apple can appeal it, but the ruling was a setback since Apple was in a stronger patent position going into the trial.

"The stalemate is much more of a victory for the accused infringers than it is for Apple," Brian Love, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies patent litigation, told Reuters.

Analysts see Apple's spate of litigation as an attempt by the iPhone maker to secure patent licensing deals, as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has done with numerous Android OEMs.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Verge article

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